The Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 227 will offer 38.6 million acres offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama for oil and gas exploration and development, announced US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. BOEM estimates the lease sale could result in the production of 0.46 billion to 0.89 billion bbls of oil and 1.9 Tcf to 3.9 Tcf of natural gas.
The lease sale encompasses 7,299 blocks located from three miles to 230 miles offshore, in water depths ranging from 9 ft to more than 11,115 ft (3 meters to 3,400 meters).
The sale, which will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on 20 March, includes all unleased areas in the Central Gulf of Mexico Planning Area. It will be the second sale under President Barack Obama’s Administration’s new Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017 and the first of five Central Gulf of Mexico lease sales that will be held under the program.
“The Obama Administration is fully committed to developing our domestic energy resources to create jobs, foster economic opportunities and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil,” Secretary Salazar said. “Exploration and development of the Gulf of Mexico’s vital energy resources will continue to help power our nation and drive our economy.”
This sale will build on a number of recent offshore lease sales, including two in 2012. Western Gulf Lease Sale 229, held in November 2012, made 20 million acres available and received high bids on tracts covering approximately 650,000 acres, garnering nearly $134 million in high bids. Central Gulf Lease Sale 216/222, held in June 2012, covered nearly 39 million acres and attracted more than $1.7 billion in high bids for more than 2.4 million acres.
BOEM conducted an extensive environmental review and published a Final Environmental Impact Statement in July 2012 with analysis to support decision-making for Lease Sale 227 and other Western and Central Gulf of Mexico lease sales scheduled under the new Five Year Program. The terms of this sale include conditions to ensure both orderly resource development and protection of the human, marine and coastal environments. These include stipulations to protect biologically sensitive resources, mitigate potential adverse effects on protected species and avoid potential conflicts associated with oil and gas development in the region.
Announced in June 2012, the Five Year Program makes offshore areas that contain more than 75% of the technically recoverable offshore oil and gas resources available for exploration and development. Under Obama’s leadership, US domestic oil and gas production has grown each year he has been in office, with domestic oil production currently higher than any time in nearly a decade and natural gas production at its highest level. Foreign oil imports now account for less than 50% of the oil consumed in America – the lowest level since 1995.