BOEM Issues Record of Decision for Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area Lease Sale

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), in a July 17 notice in the Federal Register, said it has issued a record of decision (ROD) approving the offer for lease of certain blocks in its proposed Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area sale 246 off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana.

In a separate July 17 notice in the Federal Register, BOEM published notice of the sale and public reading of bids, which will begin on Aug. 19 at 9 a.m. at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Bids are due to BOEM by Aug. 18.

“As one of the most productive basins in the world, the Gulf of Mexico is critical to the nation’s domestic energy portfolio,” BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper said in a July 16 statement. “This lease sale underscores our commitment to make millions of acres of federal waters available for safe and responsible exploration and development. “

BOEM said the sale is the eighth offshore sale under the Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017, adding that the sale builds on the first seven sales in the current five-year program, which offered more than 60 million acres and netted nearly $2.9 billion for tax payers.

According to the ROD, BOEM will offer for lease for oil and gas operations all unleased blocks within the proposed lease sale area except whole and partial blocks within the boundary of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. About 4,000 blocks are up for lease in the South Padre Island area, North Padre Island area, Mustang Island area, Matagorda Island area, Brazos area, Galveston area, High Island area, Sabine Pass area, and West Cameron area, as well as Corpus Christi, East Breaks, Garden Banks, Port Isabel, Alaminos Canyon, Keathley Canyon and Sigsbee Escarpment.

BOEM said that the lease sale encompasses nearly all of the Western Planning Area’s 28.6 million acres, and as of February, approximately 21.9 million acres of the lease sale area were unleased. In addition, BOEM estimated that the amount of resources that can be developed as a result of the sale include 116 million to 200 million barrels of oil and 538 billion to 938 billion cubic feet of gas.

According to the final notice of sale, about 2,600 blocks are available for five years in water depths of less than 400 meters; about 375 blocks are available for five years in water depths of 400 meters to less than 800 meters; about 650 blocks are available for seven years in water depths of 800 meters to less than 1,600 meters; and about 460 blocks are available for 10 years in water depths of 1,600 meters or deeper. In addition, about 2,400 blocks at water depths of less than 200 meters are available for rent for $7 per acre, and 1,660 blocks at water depths of 200 meters or deeper are available for rent for $11 per acre.

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