Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper has announced that the bureau will offer 23.8 million acres offshore Texas for oil and gas exploration and development in a milestone lease sale that will include all available unleased areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area.

“The Gulf of Mexico continues to be one of the most productive basins in the world and is an important part of our Nation’s domestic energy portfolio,” said Hopper. “This lease sale follows extensive environmental analysis and stakeholder engagement.

Gulf of Mexico planning areas. Image courtesy: BOEM

The Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 248, to be held on August 24, 2016, in New Orleans, Louisiana, will be the first federal offshore oil and gas auction broadcast live on the internet, delivering pertinent bid information immediately to a much broader national and international audience. Through this approach, BOEM aims to promote greater government efficiency and transparency, eliminating the need for the public to physically attend the bid reading at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The livestream broadcast will begin at 9 a.m. CDT via the BOEM website at www.boem.gov.

“Making government data immediately available is a valuable resource for taxpayers, both in terms of dollars and cents but also in efficiency,” said Hopper. “Through the use of technology we can deliver our lease sale information in a much more effective and accessible way to a much wider audience.”

Sale 248 will be the eleventh offshore sale in the Gulf of Mexico and the final sale for the Western Planning Area, under the Administration’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017 (Five Year Program). This sale builds on the first ten sales in the current Five Year Program, which offered more than 60 million acres and netted nearly $3 billion for American taxpayers.

The auction will include approximately 4,399 blocks, located from nine to 250 nautical miles offshore, in water depths ranging from 16 to more than 10,975 feet (5 to 3,340 meters). As a result of offering this area for lease, BOEM estimates a range of economically recoverable hydrocarbons to be discovered and produced of 116 to 200 million barrels of oil and 538 to 938 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

Leases issued from this sale will also be the first for which BOEM will accept requests for extended initial periods, and confirm whether the lessee has earned such extension, a duty previously performed by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

The decision to hold this sale follows extensive environmental analysis, public comment and consideration of the best scientific information available. The terms of the sale 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.

All terms and conditions for Western Sale 248 are detailed in the Final Notice of Sale information package, which is available here. CDs and copies of the maps may be requested from the Gulf of Mexico Region’s Public Information Unit at 1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 70123, or at 800-200-GULF (4853).

The Notice of Availability of the Final Notice of Sale is available today for inspection in the Federal Register.

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