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US unveils Lease Sale 249

Written by  Monday, 06 March 2017 14:23

The US Department of the Interior (DOI) announced its first lease sale under the Trump Administration’s new Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022 (Five Year Program), offering 73 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) this summer.

Image from BOEM Facebook.

Newly appointed Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said earlier today (6 March) that the DOI will offer 73 million acres offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for oil and gas exploration and development. The proposed region-wide lease sale is set for 16 August 2017, and will include all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Lease Sale 249 will include some 13,725 unleased blocks, from 3-230mi offshore, in the Gulf’s Western, Central, and Eastern planning areas in water depths ranging from 9ft to more than 11,115ft (3-3400m).

DOI has excluded certain blocks from the lease sale that are subject to the Congressional moratorium established by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006; blocks that are 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 boundary of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

“Opening more federal lands and waters to oil and gas drilling is a pillar of President Trump’s plan to make the United States energy independent,” Secretary Zinke said. “The Gulf is a vital part of that strategy to spur economic opportunities for industry, states, and local communities, to create jobs and home-grown energy and to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

Proposed Lease Sale 249 is scheduled to be livestreamed from New Orleans.

Under the new program, 10 region-wide lease sales are scheduled for the Gulf of Mexico, where the resource potential and industry interest are high, and oil and gas infrastructure is well established, the DOI said. Two GoM lease sales will be held each year and include all available blocks in the combined Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas.

The DOI is projecting to develop an estimated 0.211-1.118 billion bbl, and from 0.547-4.424 Tcf of gas in its new Five Year Program.

“The sale could potentially result in 1.2%-4.2% of the forecasted cumulative OCS oil and gas activity in the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the activity (up to 83% of future production) of the proposed lease sale is expected to occur in the Central Planning Area,” the DOI said.

 “To promote responsible domestic energy production, the proposed terms of this sale have been carefully developed through extensive environmental analysis, public comment, and consideration of the best scientific information available,” said Walter Cruickshank, acting director of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). “This will ensure both orderly resource development and protection of the environment.”

BOEM estimates that the US Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) contains about 90 billion bbl of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 327 Tcf of undiscovered technically recoverable gas. The Gulf of Mexico OCS, covering about 160 million acres, has technically recoverable resources of 48.46 billion bbl, and 141.76 Tcf of gas.

According to the DOI, production from all OCS leases provided 550 MMbbl, and 1.25 Tcf of natural gas in FY2016, accounting for 72% of the oil and 27% of the natural gas produced on federal lands.

As of 1 March 2017, about 16.9 million acres on the US OCS are under lease for oil and gas development (3194 active leases), and 4.6 million of those acres (929 leases) are producing oil and natural gas. More than 97% of these leases are in the Gulf of Mexico; about 3% are on the OCS off California and Alaska.

The current Five Year Program [2012-2017] has one final Gulf lease sale scheduled on 22 March 2017 for Central Planning Area Sale 247. The 2012-2017 Five Year Program has offered about 73 million acres, netted more than US$3 billion in high bids for American taxpayers and awarded more than 2000 leases.

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