BOEM proposes 78 million-acre Gulf of Mexico lease sale

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has proposed to offer around 78 million acres for a region-wide lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico scheduled for March 2020.

Illustration; Image courtesy of BOEM

According to the Department of Interior, the sale will include all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico that are not subject to Congressional moratorium.

DOI Acting Assistant Secretary Casey Hammond said: “Offshore energy development is about furthering America’s energy security, ensuring fair market value to the taxpayers, and producing domestic energy in an environmentally responsible manner.”

The Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), covering about 160 million acres, is estimated to contain about 48 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 141 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable natural gas.

Lease Sale 254 will be the sixth offshore sale under the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. Under this program, ten region-wide lease sales are scheduled for the Gulf, and two lease sales will be held each year and include all available blocks in the combined Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas.

DOI said that the Lease Sale 254 would include approximately 14,585 unleased blocks, located from three to 231 miles offshore, in the Gulf’s Western, Central, and Eastern planning areas in water depths ranging from three to 3,400 meters.

Excluded from the lease sale are blocks subject to the congressional moratorium established by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, blocks adjacent to or beyond the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone in the area known as the northern portion of the Eastern Gap, and whole blocks and partial blocks within the current boundaries of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

Revenues received from OCS leases, including high bids, rental payments, and royalty payments, are directed to the U.S. Treasury, certain Gulf Coast states, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the Historic Preservation Fund.

BOEM has included fiscal terms for the sale. These terms include a 12.5 percent royalty rate for leases in less than 200 meters of water depth, and a royalty rate of 18.75 percent for all other leases issued pursuant to the sale.

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