As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper announced Monday that the bureau will offer more than 21 million acres offshore Texas for oil and gas exploration and development in a lease sale that will include all available unleased areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area.
Proposed Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 246, scheduled to take place in New Orleans in August of 2015, will be the eighth offshore sale under the Administration’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017 (Five Year Program). This sale builds on six sales, already held in the current Five Year Program, that have netted nearly $ 2.4 billion, and supports the Administration’s goal of continuing to increase domestic oil and gas production. The seventh Gulf of Mexico sale, Central Planning Area Sale 235, will be held on March 18, 2015.
“As one of the most productive basins in the world, the Gulf of Mexico remains a critical component of the Administration’s domestic energy strategy to create jobs, foster economic opportunities, and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil,” Hopper said. “The exploration and development of the Gulf of Mexico’s vital energy resources will continue to help power our nation and drive our economy.”
Sale 246 will include approximately 4,000 blocks, covering roughly 21.8 million acres, located from nine to 250 miles offshore, in water depths ranging from 16 to more than 10,975 feet (5 to 3,346 meters). BOEM estimates the proposed lease sale could result in the production of 116 to 200 million barrels of oil and 538 to 938 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
“The decision to move forward with plans for this lease sale follows extensive environmental analysis, public comment and consideration of the best scientific information available,” said Hopper. “This proposed sale is another important step to promote responsible domestic energy production through the safe, environmentally sound exploration and development of the Nation’s offshore energy resources.”
The proposed terms of this sale include conditions to ensure both orderly resource development and protection of the human, marine and coastal environments. These 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.
BOEM’s proposed economic terms include the same range of incentives to encourage diligent development and ensure a fair return to taxpayers as used in previous sales.
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