Interior Offers 21 Million Acres in Western GoM for Oil and Natural Gas Exploration, Development
61 Bids Open; Sale Will Include All Unleased OCS Areas Offshore Texas
As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Tommy P. Beaudreau announced that BOEM will hold a lease sale that will make nearly 21 million acres offshore Texas available for oil and natural gas exploration and development.
BOEM estimates that Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 233 could lead to the production of up to 200 million barrels of oil and 938 billion cubic feet of natural gas. During tomorrow’s lease sale, BOEM will open 61 bids submitted by 12 companies on 53 offshore blocks.
“Safe and responsible development of the Gulf of Mexico’s vital energy resources will continue to help power our nation and drive our economy, generating jobs, fostering economic opportunities for local communities and reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil,” said Beaudreau. “This sale underscores the Administration’s continuing commitment to promote domestic energy production through strengthened worker safety programs and environmentally-sound exploration and development of the nation’s domestic oil and gas resources.”
As part of the Obama Administration’s strategy, domestic oil and gas production has grown each year the President has been in office, with domestic oil production currently higher than any time in two decades; natural gas production at its highest level ever; and renewable electricity generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources having doubled. Combined with recent declines in oil consumption, foreign oil imports now account for less than 40 percent of the oil consumed in America – the lowest level since 1988.
Today’s lease sale, which will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans starting at 9:00 AM CDT, offers 3,864 blocks, located from nine to 250 miles offshore, in water depths ranging from 16 to more than 10,975 feet (five to 3,346 meters). The acreage includes all available unleased or non-protected areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area. It will be the third of 12 Gulf of Mexico sales under the Administration’s new Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017, and the second of five Western Gulf of Mexico lease sales that will be held under the program.
The sale builds on the first two auctions in the current Five Year Program – a 39-million-acre sale held in March, which netted almost $1.2 billion high bids; and a 20-million-acre sale held last November that netted nearly $134 million. Announced in June 2012, the Five Year Program makes all of the offshore areas with the highest conventional resource potential available for exploration and development. Together, this includes more than 75 percent of the Nation’s undiscovered, technically recoverable offshore oil and gas resources.
BOEM established the terms for the sale after extensive environmental analysis, public comment and consideration of the best scientific information available. Lease terms 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.
The terms also continue a range of incentives to encourage diligent development and ensure a fair return to taxpayers, including an increased minimum bid for deepwater tracts, escalating rental rates and tiered durational terms with relatively short base periods followed by additional time under the same lease if the operator drills a well during the initial period.
Following the bid reading, Gulf of Mexico Regional Director John Rodi will hold a media availability to discuss the sale results. The Final Notice of Sale for Western Gulf of Mexico Sale 233 details the lease terms and conditions, as well as all the environmental stipulations for this sale, is available at: http://www.boem.gov/Sale-233.