The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) today held an oil and gas lease sale for the Western Gulf of Mexico that drew $22,675,212 in high bids for tracts on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf offshore Texas.
A total of 5 offshore energy companies submitted 33 bids on 33 tracts, covering about 190,080 acres. The sum of all bids received totaled $22,675,212.
“The Gulf remains a critical component of our nation’s energy portfolio and holds important energy resources that spur economic opportunities for Gulf producing states, creating jobs and home-grown energy and reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” said BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper. “While this sale reflects today’s market conditions and industry’s current development strategy, it underscores a steady, continued interest in developing deep water federal offshore oil and gas resources.”
Lease Sale 246 builds on the first seven sales held under the Obama Administration’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017 (Five Year Program) that offered more than 60 million acres for development, garnered $2.9 billion in bid revenues and awarded 1,038 leases. The Five Year Program makes available all offshore areas with the highest resource potential and includes 75 percent of the nation’s undiscovered, technically recoverable offshore oil and gas resources.
“As one the most productive basins in the world, the Gulf of Mexico continues to be the keystone of the Nation’s offshore oil and gas resources,” Hopper said. “The continuing drop in oil prices and low natural gas prices obviously affect industry’s short-term investment decisions, but the Gulf’s long-term value to the nation remains high and the President’s energy strategy continues to offer millions of offshore acres for development while protecting the human, marine and coastal environments, and ensuring a fair return to the American people.”
Lease Sale 246 offered 4,083 unleased blocks, covering about 21.9 million acres, 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).
BOEM established the terms for this sale after extensive environmental analysis, public comment and consideration of the best scientific information available. These terms include measures to protect the environment, such as stipulations requiring that operators protect biologically sensitive features as well as providing trained protected species observers. The observers would monitor marine mammals and sea turtles to ensure compliance with protective measures and restrict operations when conditions warrant.
The lease terms include a range of incentives to encourage diligent development and ensure a fair return to taxpayers. The leases would also allow a lessee to earn a longer lease term for spudding a well in deeper water or by drilling to a minimum target depth.
Following today’s sale, each bid will go through a strict evaluation process within BOEM to ensure the public receives fair market value before a lease is awarded.
BOEM oversees 160 million acres on the Outer Continental Shelf in the Gulf of Mexico off Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. About 26.6 million acres (4,938 blocks) are leased for oil and gas development; and 4.7 million of those acres (967 blocks) are producing oil and natural gas.