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Interior to offer 38.6 million acres in Gulf of Mexico for drilling

By Bob Downing Published: February 7, 2013

A press release received today from the U.S. Department of the Interior on plans to offer 38 million acres off-shore in the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi:

:

WASHINGTON – As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Tommy P. Beaudreau today announced that Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 227 will offer 38.6 million acres offshore Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama for oil and gas exploration and development. The lease sale could lead to the production of nearly one billion barrels of oil and almost 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

“The Obama Administration is fully committed to developing our domestic energy resources to create jobs, foster economic opportunities, and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil,” Secretary Salazar said. “Exploration and development of the Gulf of Mexico’s vital energy resources will continue to help power our nation and drive our economy.”

Under the President’s leadership, domestic oil and gas production has grown each year he has been in office, with domestic oil production currently higher than any time in nearly a decade and natural gas production at its highest level ever. Foreign oil imports now account for less than 50 percent of the oil consumed in America – the lowest level since 1995.

The sale, which will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on March 20, 2013, includes all unleased areas in the Central Gulf of Mexico Planning Area. It will be the second sale under the Administration’s new Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017, and the first of five Central Gulf of Mexico lease sales that will be held under the program.

Announced in June 2012, the Five Year Program makes offshore areas that contain more than 75 percent of the technically recoverable offshore oil and gas resources available for exploration and development. This is consistent with President Obama’s commitment to continue to expand domestic energy production and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.

Lease Sale 227 encompasses 7,299 blocks located from three to about 230 miles offshore, in water depths ranging from nine to more than 11,115 feet (three to 3,400 meters). BOEM estimates the lease sale could result in the production of 0.46 billion to 0.89 billion barrels of oil, and 1.9 trillion cubic feet to 3.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

“This sale is another important step to promote responsible domestic energy production through the safe, environmentally sound exploration and development of the Nation’s offshore oil and gas resources,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “The Central Gulf of Mexico is one of the bedrocks of the United States’ energy portfolio.”

This sale will build on a number of recent offshore lease sales – including two in 2012. Western Gulf Lease Sale 229, held in November 2012, made 20 million acres available and received high bids on tracts covering about 650,000 acres, garnering nearly $134 million in high bids. Central Gulf Lease Sale 216/222, held in June 2012, covered nearly 39 million acres, and attracted more than $1.7 billion in high bids for more than 2.4 million acres.

BOEM conducted an extensive environmental review and published a Final Environmental Impact Statement in July 2012 with analysis to support decision-making for Lease Sale 227 and other Western and Central Gulf of Mexico lease sales scheduled under the new Five Year Program. The 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.

The final terms also continue to include a range of incentives to encourage diligent development and ensure a fair return to taxpayers. In addition, BOEM has implemented a new, streamlined format for sale notices, beginning with this sale, making the document more user-friendly and accessible to the public.

Terms and conditions for the sale are available at: http://www.boem.gov/sale-227. The Notice of Availability of the Final Notice of Sale can be viewed today in the Federal Register at: https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection. Copies can also be requested from the Gulf of Mexico Region’s Public Information Office at 1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 70123, or at 800-200-GULF (4853).

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) promotes economic development, energy independence, and environmental protection through responsible, science-based management of offshore conventional and renewable energy development.

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