The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced this week that it will hold Gulf of Mexico Eastern Planning Area oil and gas lease sale 225 in New Orleans on March 19, 2014, immediately following the proposed Central Planning Area Sale 231. BOEM said the March sale is part of President Obama’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production.
Proposed Sale 225 is the first lease sale proposed for the Eastern Planning Area under the 2012 - 2017 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Natural Gas Leasing Program, and the first sale offering acreage in that area since Sale 224, held in March of 2008.
|BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau|
“This proposed sale is another important step to promote responsible domestic energy production through the safe, environmentally sound exploration and development of the Nation’s offshore energy resources,” BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau said in a prepared release.
The proposed sale encompasses 134 whole or partial unleased blocks covering approximately 465,200 acres in the Eastern Planning Area. The blocks are located at least 125 statute miles offshore in water depths ranging from 2,657 feet (810 meters) to 10,213 feet (3,113 meters). The area is bordered by the Central Planning Area boundary on the west and the Military Mission Line (86º 41’W) on the east. It is south of eastern Alabama and western Florida; the nearest point of land is 125 miles northwest in Louisiana.
Of the 134 blocks available in this sale, 93 are located in the same area offered in 2008’s Eastern Planning Area Sale 224 and are subject to revenue sharing under the Domenici-Landrieu Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, a law pushed through by U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and then-Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., to provide that the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas share in 37.5 percent of the bonus payments. These four Gulf producing states will also share in 37.5 percent of all future revenues generated from those leases. Additionally, 12.5 percent of revenues from those leases are allocated to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The remaining 41 blocks, located just south of that area, are not subject to revenue sharing under GOMESA.
BOEM estimates the proposed lease sale could result in the production of 71 million barrels of oil and 162 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
|U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu|
The decision to move forward with plans for this lease sale follows extensive environmental analysis, public comment and consideration of the best scientific information available, according to BOEM. In October, BOEM published a Final Environmental Impact Statement for proposed Eastern Planning Area Sales 225 and 226. The Final EIS updated information gathered in three previous EISs. EPA Sale 226, scheduled for 2016, is the only other Eastern Gulf of Mexico lease sale proposed under the current five-year program.
The proposed 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.
All proposed terms and conditions for Lease Sale 225 will be finalized when the Final Notice of Sale is published at least 30 days prior to the sale.
The Gulf of Mexico contributes about 25 percent of U.S. domestic oil and 11 percent of domestic gas production, providing the bulk of the $14.2 billion in mineral revenue disbursed to federal, state and American Indian accounts from onshore and offshore energy revenue collections in Fiscal Year 2013. That was a 17 percent increase over FY 2012 disbursements of $12.15 billion, due primarily to $2.77 billion in bonus bids received for new oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico
The five-year program offers nearly 219 million acres on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf for lease, making all areas of the OCS with the highest oil and gas resource potential available for exploration and development. The plan includes up to 15 lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. The first three sales under the program offered more than 79 million acres for development and garnered $1.4 billion in high bids, according to BOEM.