Next Gulf Of Mexico Lease Sale Confirmed
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has announced the bureau will offer approximately 47 million acres offshore Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama for oil and gas exploration and development in a lease sale that will include all available unleased areas in the Central Planning Area.
The Proposed Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 247, scheduled to take place in New Orleans in March of 2017, will be the twelfth offshore sale under the Administration’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017. It builds on eleven sales already held in the current Five Year Program that have netted more than $3 billion.
Sale 247 will include approximately 8,878 blocks, located from three to about 230 miles offshore, in water depths ranging from nine to more than 11,115 feet (nine to 3,400 meters).
“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,” said BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper.
However, environmental groups such as the Center for Biological Diversity want to see an end to new leases. In a recently released report, the Center says the Gulf dominates U.S. offshore oil and gas production, contributing an average of 96 percent of U.S. federally managed offshore oil and gas.
Technically recoverable oil and gas resources of the Gulf of Mexico that have yet to be leased contain up to 32.81 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (Gt CO2e) - as much greenhouse gas pollution as 9,500 coal-fired power plants operating for a year, states the report. Developing all remaining oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico would nearly double the potential greenhouse gas emissions from all federal fossil fuels onshore and offshore.
“More leasing in the Gulf of Mexico will deepen the climate crisis and the harms already being felt by people living along the Gulf Coast who face severe storms, rising seas and saltwater intrusion into fresh water,” states the report. “A Gulf coast community, Isle de Jean Charles, is the first community in the United States forced to move from sinking lands because of climate change. Shrimpers and fishermen have lost their livelihoods. Meanwhile oil-industry pollution makes people sick and causes cancer. It also damages shorelines, disrupts ecosystems and harms sea turtles, whales, dolphins and the wealth of wildlife in the Gulf.”
The U.S. Energy Information Administration anticipates that Gulf oil production will reach a record high in 2017.