The US Department of the Interior’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, Casey Hammond, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Acting Director, Dr. Walter Cruickshank, have announced that the BOEM proposes to offer approximately 78 million acres for a region-wide lease sale scheduled for March 2020. The sale would include all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico that are not subject to Congressional moratorium.
“Offshore energy development is about furthering America’s energy security, ensuring fair market value to the taxpayers, and producing domestic energy in an environmentally responsible manner,” said Acting Assistant Secretary Casey Hammond. “We all benefit from a strong offshore energy programme, which provides thousands of well-paying jobs, as well as affordable and reliable energy Americans need to heat homes, fuel our cars, and power our economy."
The Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), covering about 160 million acres, is estimated to contain about 48 billion bbl of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 141 trillion ft3 of undiscovered technically recoverable natural gas.
Lease Sale 254, scheduled to be livestreamed from New Orleans, Louisiana, will be the sixth offshore sale under the 2017 – 2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. Under this programme, 10 region-wide lease sales are scheduled for the Gulf, where resource potential and industry interest are high, and oil and gas infrastructure is well established. Two Gulf lease sales will be held each year and include all available blocks in the combined Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas.
Lease Sale 254 will include approximately 14 585 unleased blocks, located from three to 231 miles offshore, in the Gulf’s Western, Central and Eastern planning areas in water depths ranging from nine to more than 11 115 ft (three to 3400 m). Excluded from the lease sale are: blocks subject to the congressional moratorium established by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006; blocks adjacent to or beyond the US Exclusive Economic Zone in the area known as the northern portion of the Eastern Gap; and whole blocks and partial blocks within the current boundaries of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
Fiscal terms proposed for Lease Sale 254 include a 12.5% royalty rate for leases in less than 200 m of water depth, and a royalty rate of 18.75% for all other leases issued pursuant to the sale.
"BOEM’s mission is to oversee leasing of OCS energy and mineral resources in an environmentally and economically responsible way," said Cruickshank. “Leases resulting from this proposed sale will 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.”
Revenues received from OCS leases (including high bids, rental payments and royalty payments) are directed to the US Treasury, certain Gulf Coast states (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama), the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the Historic Preservation Fund.
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