Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has announced a pair of lease sales that will offer 45 million acres for oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf of Mexico.

Central Planning Area Lease Sale 241 and Eastern Planning Area Lease Sale 226 will be held consecutively in New Orleans on March 23. They represent the ninth and 10th offshore auctions under the Obama administration’s five-year oil and gas leasing program.

An August sale for western Gulf parcels drew a lackluster response, netting only $22.7 million in high bids. The poor response was attributed to the regulatory environment and low commodity prices.

Sale 241 encompasses about 8,349 unleased blocks, covering 44.3 million acres, located from three to 230 nautical miles offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, in water depths ranging from nine to more than 11,115 feet (3 to 3,400 meters).

Sale 226 is the second of two lease sales proposed for the Eastern Planning Area under the current five-year program. The sale encompasses 162 whole or partial unleased blocks covering about 595,475 acres in the Eastern Planning Area. The blocks are located at least 125 statute miles offshore in water depths ranging from 2,657 feet to 10,213 feet (810 to 3,113 meters). The area is south of eastern Alabama and western Florida; the nearest point of land is 125 miles northwest in Louisiana.

“These lease sales continue the President's commitment to create jobs through the safe and responsible exploration and development of the Nation's domestic energy resources,” said BOEM director Abigail Ross Hopper. “As an important component of the U.S. energy portfolio, the Gulf of Mexico holds vast energy resources that can continue to spur economic opportunities for Gulf producing states as well as further reduce the Nation's dependence on foreign oil.”

Most of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Area (EPA) cannot be offered for lease until 2022 as part of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006.

Terms and conditions for the two upcoming sales can be viewed on the BOEM website: Sale 226 / Sale 241.