Today, the Obama administration announced that it would offer 41.2 million acres for oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf of Mexico in a March lease sale.

Lease Sale 235 in the Central Planning Area will be held in New Orleans on March 18. The sale will be the seventh offshore auction under the administration’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017 (Five Year Program), which makes all areas with the highest-known resource potential available for oil and gas leasing in order to further reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

The lease sale builds on the first six sales in the Five Year Program that offered more than 60 million acres for development and garnered $2.4 billion in high bids.

The Gulf of Mexico contributes about 18% of U.S. domestic oil and 5% of domestic gas production, providing the bulk of the $13.5 billion in mineral revenue disbursed to federal, state and American Indian accounts from onshore and offshore energy revenue collections in fiscal year 2014.

“This lease sale underscores the president’s commitment to create jobs through the safe and responsible exploration and development of the Nation’s domestic energy resources,” Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement. “As one of the most productive basins in the world, the Gulf of Mexico is an important part of the administration’s energy strategy.”

Sale 235 encompasses 7,788 unleased blocks, covering about 41.2 million acres, located from three to 230 nautical miles offshore Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, in water depths ranging from nine feet to more than 11,115'. BOEM estimates the proposed sale could result in the production of approximately one billion bbls. of oil and four trillion cu. ft. of natural gas.

The decision to hold this sale follows extensive environmental analysis, public comment and consideration of the best scientific information available. The terms of the sale 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.

All terms and conditions for Sale 235 are detailed in the Final Notice of Sale that can be viewed in the Federal Register and are fully explained on the BOEM website at