The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act authorizes the Federal Government, through this Bureau, to grant leases to the highest bidder for the exploration, development and production of oil and gas contained within the Outer Continental Shelf (generally defined as the submerged lands lying around and outside three geographical miles off each state.) These rights are conveyed by contracts referred to as leases. Each lease covers an area that is no more than 5,760 acres and is generally a square measuring 3 miles by 3 miles. Under a lease, a company has the right to apply for permits to explore and develop the mineral resources within that area. Before approving the permits, the Bureau carefully reviews all applications to ensure that the activities will be conducted in a safe and environmentally sound manner and that the interests of key stakeholders are effectively addressed.