Nearly 77 million acres for lease sale in Gulf of Mexico

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WJHG/WECP) - Nearly 77 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico will be for up lease sale in March 2018.

Tuesday, United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said the department is proposing the largest oil and gas lease sale ever in the United States. The lease includes nearly 77 million acres in federal waters offshore of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

The department says the proposed region-wide lease sale is an area about the size of New Mexico and will include all available unleased areas on the Gulf's Outer Continental Shelf. The lease sale is scheduled for March 2018.

“In today’s low-price energy environment, providing the offshore industry access to the maximum amount of opportunities possible is part of our strategy to spur local and regional economic dynamism and job creation and a pillar of President Trump’s plan to make the United States energy dominant,” Secretary Zinke said. “And the economic terms proposed for this sale include a range of incentives to encourage diligent development and ensure a fair return to taxpayers.”

This lease sale, called Proposed Lease Sale 250, will be the second offshore sale under the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022.

The department says it will get royalty payments on any gas and oil production from the lease as well as the high bids and rental payments. Money from Outer Continental Shelf leases goes to the U.S. Treasury, Gulf Coast States, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and Historic Preservation Fund.

The department believes this area will produce 0.21 to 1.12 billion barrels of oil and 0.55 to 4.42 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Proposed Lease Sale 250 includes more than 14,000 unleased blocks located from three to 230 miles offshore in water depths ranging from nine to more than 11,115 feet.

The lease sale terms will protect biologically sensitive resources, lessen potential adverse impacts on protected species, and avoid potential conflicts associated with oil and gas development in the area. As of now, the terms and conditions for Proposed Lease Sale 250 are not final.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimates that the Outer Continental Shelf contains about 90 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable gas. The Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf, covering about 160 million acres, has technically recoverable resources of over 48 billion barrels of oil and 141 trillion cubic feet of gas.