U.S. to offer all available Gulf of Mexico blocks for oil and gas exploration

The U.S. Department of Interior and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will offer 77.3 million acres offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for oil and gas exploration and development.

Last Friday BOEM said that the region-wide lease sale scheduled for August 15, announced by DOI’s assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management Joe Balash and BOEM acting director Walter Cruickshank, would include all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The organization said that Lease Sale 251 would be the third offshore sale under the National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022.

Under this program, ten region-wide lease sales are scheduled for the Gulf. 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.

Balash said: “Responsibly developing our energy resources in the OCS is important to our economy and energy security. Striking the right balance between protecting the environment, powering America and achieving American energy dominance is our ultimate goal.”

Lease Sale 251 will include approximately 14,474 unleased blocks, located from three to 231 miles offshore, in the Gulf’s Western, Central and Eastern planning areas in water depths ranging from nine to more than 11,115 feet (three to 3,400 meters).

According to BOEM, excluded from the lease sale are blocks subject to the congressional moratorium established by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, blocks that are 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 boundary of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

Acting director Cruickshank added: “BOEM has a vital role in advancing responsible offshore energy development. Protecting the environment while providing for our energy needs is essential to our mission. This lease sale is a just one piece of the Administration’s comprehensive effort to secure our Nation’s energy future and benefit the economy.”

The Gulf of Mexico OCS, covering about 160 million acres, contains about 48 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 141 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable gas.

Additionally, BOEM has included appropriate fiscal terms that take into account market conditions and ensure taxpayers receive a fair return for the use of the OCS. These terms include a 12.5% royalty rate for leases in less than 200 meters of water depth and a royalty rate of 18.75% for all other leases.