Illustration. Source: BOEM

US unveils next steps in its 2024–2029 Gulf of Mexico oil & gas leasing program

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has revealed the notice of availability of the area identification (Area ID) for the three proposed Gulf of Mexico (GOM) oil and gas lease sales during the 2024-2029 period.

Illustration. Source: BOEM

The final program for 2024-2029 offshore oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico comes with the lowest number of lease sales in U.S. history, encompassing a maximum of three potential oil and gas lease sales – 262, 263, and 264 – slated for 2025, 2027, and 2029, respectively.

These three proposed lease sales are said to be the minimum number that would enable the Interior Department to continue to expand its offshore wind leasing program through 2030 in compliance with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The plan entails zero oil and gas lease sales in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Alaskan waters.

Based on the 2024–2029 National Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing program, the first proposed sale, Lease Sale 262, is tentatively scheduled for 2025. In October 2023, BOEM published a call for information and nominations on the GOM area identified in the 2024–2029 National OCS program.

Source: BOEM

This call solicited industry nominations for areas of leasing interest, seeking input from the public. Using the received input, BOEM created the Area ID for the proposed 262, 263, and 264 lease sales, which were published in the Federal Register on April 1, 2024.

“The Area ID is not a decision to lease and is not a prejudgment by the Department of the Interior on how or whether to proceed with proposed lease sales 262, 263, and 264 under the National OCS program. The Area ID simply determines which areas identified in the call will receive further consideration and analyses,” explained BOEM.

Courtesy of BOEM

According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the decision to lease needs to be preceded by several steps, including the completion of environmental analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act.

This process also entails consultation under environmental and other statutes; opportunities for federally recognized tribes, governors of affected states, local government leaders, and other interested parties to provide comment; and the issuance of proposed and final sale notices.

Source: BOEM

This comes after BOEM modified monetary penalties for oil and gas companies, implementing the 2024 inflation adjustments for the maximum daily civil monetary penalties in its regulations.

The U.S. is determined to curb the oil and gas industry’s emission footprint, including methane. With this in mind, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed a new rule in line with the Biden-Harris administration’s IRA.