The final notice includes a new royalty suspension provision affecting shallow-water deep gas production that was not included in the proposed notice of Sale 190. In lieu of the royalty suspension provisions recently offered on new leases, the expanded royalty suspension provisions of the final rule contained in 30 CFR 203.41 through 203.47, effective March 1, 2004, will apply to leases in water depths less than 200 meters issued as a result of this sale and where new deep gas is drilled and commences production by March 1, 2009. The provisions of this new rule also expand royalty relief to include approximately 2,400 existing leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Recent royalty suspension measures for deepwater oil and gas production will continue. These provisions are designed to increase domestic natural gas and oil production to meet our Nation's energy needs.
Included in this final notice are a recently revised Protected Species Stipulation and a related Information-to-Lessees clause designed to minimize or avoid potential adverse impacts to federally protected species. These measures resulted from recent formal MMS consultations (pursuant to the Endangered Species Act) with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
This final notice includes a revised Information-to-Lessees clause that informs potential bidders of three applications received by the Coast Guard and the Maritime Administration for deepwater port and liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities. Two of these LNG projects have been approved by the Maritime Administration – Port Pelican on Vermilion Area Blocks 139 and 140 (currently unleased, but unavailable in Lease Sale 190), and Energy Bridge on West Cameron Area, South Addition, Block 603 (currently leased). The decision to defer leasing of Vermilion Area Blocks 139 and 140 applies only to Lease Sale 190. The MMS will continue to consult with the Coast Guard and Maritime Administration to develop appropriate safeguards so that these blocks, and others that may be affected by additional LNG deepwater port applications, may be offered for oil and gas leasing in the future.
Included also in this final notice is an Information-to-Lessees clause informing potential bidders of potential sand dredging activities on Ship Shoal Blocks 87, 88, 89, 94 and 95, South Pelto Area Blocks 12, 13, 14, 18 and 19 and West Delta Blocks 27 and 49. In addition, a new stipulation applies specifically to Ship Shoal Blocks 87 (S½), 88, and 89 and requires lessees of these blocks to coordinate oil and gas activities in these blocks to avoid conflict with sand-dredging activities. MMS intends to coordinate activities of sand-dredge vessels with oil and gas lessees to preclude any adverse time, space, and use conflicts.
Finally, this final notice contains a requirement that each bidder submit, by the bid submission deadline, a Geophysical Data and Information Statement declaring whether they possess or control depth-migrated geophysical data and information pertaining to each block upon which they are participating as a bidder.
Lease Sale 190 encompasses 4,324 available blocks in the Central Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf planning area offshore Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. This area covers about 22.7 million acres. Blocks in this sale are located from 3 to about 210 miles offshore in water depths ranging from 4 to more than 3,425 meters. Estimates of undiscovered economically recoverable hydrocarbons expected to be discovered and produced as a result of this sale range from 270 to 650 million barrels of oil and 1.59 to 3.30 trillion cubic feet natural gas.
Statistical Information Lease Sale 190:
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