Lease sale set for Gulf of Mexico in August

The Interior Department announced today that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will offer 77.8 million acres in a regionwide lease sale scheduled for Aug. 21. Lease Sale 253 would include all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

“The Trump administration is laser focused on developing our domestic offshore oil and gas resources in an environmentally conscious manner, and the Gulf of Mexico is front and center for that development,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement. “The expansion of America’s energy sector has been a major economic driver for the American people in keeping energy prices low. Our work in the Gulf of Mexico to ensure America leads the world in energy production is paramount.”

Lease Sale 253, scheduled to be livestreamed from New Orleans, will be the fifth offshore sale under the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program. Under this program, a total of 10 regionwide lease sales are scheduled for the Gulf, where resource potential and industry interest are high, and oil and gas infrastructure is well established. Two Gulf-wide lease sales are scheduled to be held each year and include all available blocks in the combined Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas.

Lease Sale 253 will 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 nine to over 11,115 feet (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.

The Gulf of Mexico OCS, covering about 160 million acres, is estimated to contain about 48 billion bbls. of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 141 trillion cu. ft. of undiscovered technically recoverable gas.

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

“This lease sale is a critical part of BOEM’s multi-faceted effort to secure our nation’s energy future,” said BOEM Gulf of Mexico Regional Director Mike Celata. “Environmentally responsible exploration and development of the Gulf’s vital energy resources continues to help power our nation and drive our economy.”

Leases resulting from this proposed sale would 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.

Additionally, BOEM has included appropriate fiscal terms that take into account 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 meters 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 Region-wide Sale 253 are detailed in the Final Notice of Sale (FNOS) information package available at: http://www.boem.gov/Sale-253/. Copies of the FNOS maps can be requested from the Gulf of Mexico Region’s Public Information Unit at 1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 70123, or at 800-200-GULF (4853).

The Notice of Availability was published in the Federal Register on July 19.

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