US Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt has announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will offer approximately 78 million acres offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for oil and gas exploration and development. The regionwide lease sale, scheduled for 15 August, includes all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
“Responsibly developing our offshore energy resources is a major pillar of this administration’s energy strategy,” Mr Bernhardt said. “We look forward to this important sale, as the Gulf of Mexico continues to be the crown jewel of the Outer Continental Shelf. A strong offshore energy program supports tens of thousands of well-paying jobs and provides the affordable and reliable energy Americans need to heat homes, fuel our cars and power our economy.”
Lease Sale 251, scheduled to be live-streamed from New Orleans, will be the third offshore sale under the National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022. Under this program, 10 regionwide lease sales are scheduled for the Gulf, where resource potential and industry interest are high and oil and gas infrastructure well established. Two Gulf lease sales will be held each year and include all available blocks in the combined Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas.
“Powering America and protecting the offshore environment are not mutually exclusive,” said Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy Vincent DeVito. “We can do both. American energy production can be competitive, while remaining safe and environmentally sound. This lease sale is just one piece of the administration’s comprehensive effort to secure our nation’s energy future.”
Lease Sale 251 will include approximately 14,622 unleased blocks, located from 3 miles to 231 miles offshore, in the Gulf’s Western, Central and Eastern planning areas in water depths ranging from 9 ft to more than 11,115 ft (3 m to 3,400 m). The Gulf of Mexico OCS, covering about 160 million acres, contains about 48 billion bbl of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 141 trillion cu ft of undiscovered technically recoverable gas.
Additionally, BOEM has included appropriate fiscal terms that account for market conditions and ensure taxpayers receive a fair return for use of the OCS. These terms include a 12.5% royalty rate for leases in less than 200 m of water depth and a royalty rate of 18.75% for all other leases issued pursuant to the sale, in recognition of current hydrocarbon price conditions and the marginal nature of remaining Gulf of Mexico shallow-water resources.
All terms and conditions for Gulf of Mexico Regionwide Sale 251 are detailed in the Final Notice of Sale (FNOS) information package, which will be available for viewing on 13 July 2018.