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National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program

On September 29, 2023, the Proposed Final Program (PFP) was published. The PFP covers the 5-year period starting on July 1, 2024, and continues through June 30, 2029. The PFP schedules three potential oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Program Area. Sixty days after the transmittal of the PFP to the President and Congress, the Secretary approved the 2024–2029 Program via a combined decision memo and Record of Decision. The three GOM sales are scheduled to occur over the 5 years of the 2024–2029 Program, with one sale each in 2025, 2027, and 2029. The Secretary retains discretion at the lease sale stage to determine whether, when, and under what terms a lease sale should be held and the precise acreage to be offered.

Supporting Documents

Supplemental Information

The process of developing the 2024–2029 Program is described in the table below.

2024–2029 National OCS Program Development Full Process and Documents
Phase Official Notice National OCS Program Document Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Environmental Analysis Methodology Comment Period Dates Comment Docket
Request for Information (RFI) Federal Register Notice
July 3, 2017
      July 3, 2017 – August 17, 2017 BOEM-2017-0050
Draft Proposed Program (DPP) and NOI to Prepare a Programmatic EIS Federal Register Notice of Availability
January 8, 2018
2019–2024 DPP
(includes the Secretary’s Draft Proposal)
    January 8, 2018 – March 9, 2018 BOEM-2017-0074
Proposed Program and Draft Programmatic EIS Federal Register Notice of Availability
July 8, 2022
2023–2028 Proposed Program
(includes the Secretary’s Second Proposal)
Draft Programmatic EIS:
Volume I
Volume II
Draft Economic Analysis Methodology for the 2023–2028 National OCS Program  July 8, 2022 – October 6, 2022 BOEM-2022-0031
PFP and Final Programmatic EIS Federal Register Notice of Availability
October 2, 2023
2024–2029 PFP
(includes the Secretary’s Final Proposal)
Final Programmatic EIS:
Volume I
Volume II
Economic Analysis Methodology for the 2024-2029 National OCS Program    
60-day Waiting Period
Decision Memo and Record of Decision

Program Approval and Record of Decision 
December 14, 2023

         

After considering Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Section 18 requirements and factors (See Requirements & Factors Tab), as well as input from governors and the public, the Secretary of the Interior decided to include  three potential lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Program Area in the 2024–2029 Proposed Final Program (PFP). Sixty days after the transmittal of the PFP to the President and Congress, the Secretary approved the 2024–2029 Program. The PFP covers the 5-year period starting on July 1, 2024, and continues through June 30, 2029. The GOM Program Area is composed of the Western GOM Planning Area and the portions of the Central and Eastern GOM planning areas not currently under Presidential withdrawal.

2024–2029 Proposed Final Program Lease Sale Schedule
Count Sale Number Sale Year OCS Region and Program Area
1 262 2025 Gulf of Mexico:  GOM Program Area
2 263 2027 Gulf of Mexico:  GOM Program Area
3 264 2029 Gulf of Mexico:  GOM Program Area

2024–2029 Proposed Final Program Area

2024-2029 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Final Program Area

GIS files for the 2024-2029 Proposed Final Program

For more information about the lease sale planning process, check out the following links:

Under Section 18 of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Lands Act, the Secretary of the Interior is responsible for approving a schedule of OCS oil and gas lease sales for a 5-year period. The approved schedule is called the National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program). BOEM is responsible for developing the National OCS Program, advising the Secretary, and administering the National OCS Program once adopted.  

  • Only the lease sale areas and subarea options the Secretary decides are appropriate for further analysis are included in the analysis.
  • Winnowing of available lease areas typically occurs during each of the analytical phases.  
  • Specific OCS Lands Act Section 18 requirements and factors are evaluated to determine which areas to include in a potential lease sale schedule. (See Requirements & Factors tab)  
  • These requirements include the size, timing, and location of proposed lease sales to best meet national energy needs.   
National OCS Program Development Process 
Phase Description
Request for Information and Comment (RFI)
  • Requests information and comment from all stakeholders regarding all 26 planning areas
45-day Comment Period
Draft Proposed Program (DPP)
  • The DPP document, which analyzes all 26 OCS planning areas, is published
  • The Secretary presents their Draft Proposal, which could narrow the program areas that will remain under leasing consideration
  • Notice of Intent to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS) is published
60-day Comment Period
Proposed Program
  • The Proposed Program document, which analyses the Draft Proposal, is published
  • The Secretary presents their Second Proposal, which could narrow the program areas further
  • Draft Programmatic EIS is published
90-day Comment Period
Proposed Final Program (PFP)
  • The PFP document, which analyzes the Second Proposal, is published
  • The Secretary presents their Final Proposal
  • Final Programmatic EIS is published
60-day Waiting Period for the President and Congress
Approval
  • New National OCS Program is approved by the Secretary and a combined decision memo and Record of Decision is posted

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Process 

The National OCS Program documents dovetail with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to meet the robust Section 18 requirements and factors.  

BOEM prepares an Environmental Impact Statement since several of the Section 18 requirements and factors closely align with the requirements of NEPA.  

After National OCS Program Approval 

lease sale must be included in an approved National OCS Program to be held. A lease sale cannot be added to an approved National OCS Program without an act of Congress. Whether a lease sale is held depends on sale-specific analysis. Once a sale is held, BOEM performs a 90-day review and accepts or rejects lease sale bids. 

A lease conveys the rights to explore for, develop, and produce the oil and gas contained within the lease area. The lease is a contractual agreement and defines requirements for surety bonds, royalty payments, rental payments, and assignment or other transfers. Once granted, an oil and gas lease gives the lessee a primary lease term to explore for and develop oil and gas resources. Primary terms range from 5 to 10 years, depending on water depth.  A lessee must relinquish the lease if no activity has occurred within that specified amount of time. 

All exploration, development, and production plans are carefully reviewed by BOEM. Once lessees receive plan approval from BOEM, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) then exercises primary oversight of all permitting and operational activities (e.g., drilling and production). The pre- and post-lease processes are shown in the figure below. 
 

National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program

Click on the accordions below to learn more about the development of the National OCS Program.

Information about the National OCS Program process.
 

OCS Leasing Process Diagram


Information about how the National Oil & Gas Geologic Resource Assessment is conducted to find potential oil and gas, and how it informs National OCS Program decisions. These materials provide information about the economic analysis conducted to inform National OCS Program decisions, and what economic factors are considered in evaluating a program area.
 

Oil - Formation to Production
Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources on the Gulf of Mexico OCS
2021 Resource Assessment
2021 National Assessment
Map of Undiscovered Technically Recoverable Oil and Gas Resources on the OCS


The Programmatic EIS is prepared following the process prescribed by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and in accordance with the April 2022 revised NEPA regulations. The Programmatic EIS includes an analysis of the proposed action, alternatives, and cumulative and cross-boundary impacts.

2023-2028 Proposed Program: Greenhouse Gas Analysis Estimates of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Environment Fact Sheet
Resources Analyzed for the PEIS
Potential Impacts of the Proposed Program
Potential Impacts of Oil Spills
BSEE Lifecycle of Oil and Gas Offshore Exploration
BSEE Oil Spill Response Recovery Preparedness


The OCS Lands Act prescribes the major steps (See Program Development Tab) to develop a National OCS Program, including opportunities for public comment. In August and September of 2022, BOEM held four robust and interactive experience Virtual Open House Public Meetings. Participants were given the opportunity to visit several virtual stations to have open discussions with BOEM staff and to ask any questions or request additional information.

Virtual Open House and Public Meetings poster

Section 18 of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Lands Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to establish a schedule of lease sales for a five-year period by balancing specific factors of OCS regions and selecting the size, timing, and location of OCS lease sales that best meet regional and national energy needs and consider the impact of oil and gas exploration on the marine, coastal, and human environments.    

When determining the schedule of lease sales, the OCS Lands Act requires the Secretary to consider the following four requirements and eight factors: 

Section 18(a)(1): Economic, social, and environmental values 
Section 18(a)(2): Factors for determining size, timing, and location of leasing 

  1. Equitable sharing of developmental benefits and environmental risks among the regions;   
  2. Existing information on geographical, geological, and ecological characteristics of regions;  
  3. Location of regions with respect to, and the relative needs of, regional and national energy markets; 
  4. Location of regions with respect to other uses of the sea and seabed, including fisheries, navigation, existing or proposed sea-lanes, potential sites of deepwater ports, and other anticipated uses of the resources and space of the OCS;   
  5. Expressed interest of potential oil and gas producers in the development of oil and gas resources;  
  6. Laws, goals, and policies of affected states, identified by Governors as relevant matters for the Secretary’s consideration;   
  7. Relative environmental sensitivity and marine productivity of different OCS areas; and   
  8. Relevant environmental and predictive information for different OCS areas. 

Section 18(a)(3): Balancing the potential for environmental damage, discovery of oil and gas, and adverse impact on the coastal zone 
Section 18(a)(4): Assure receipt of fair market value for the lands leased and the rights conveyed 

The 2024–2029 Proposed Final Program document and Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement present the latest analysis of these requirements and factors (See 2024–2029 Program Tab).   

BOEM is the agency in the Department of the Interior that oversees science-informed management of oil and gas, renewable energy, and mineral resources on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). BOEM manages thousands of oil and gas leases covering millions of acres on the OCS, the vast majority of which are in the Gulf of Mexico. For the most recent leasing stats, please check this page https://www.boem.gov/oil-gas-energy/leasing/outer-continental-shelf-lease-sale-statistics

The National OCS Program consists of a schedule of oil and gas lease sales indicating the size, timing, and location of proposed leasing activity that the Secretary of the Interior determines will best meet national energy needs for a five-year period following a new National OCS Program approval and effective date.

BOEM has developed a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Programmatic EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to inform the development of the National OCS Program. The Draft Programmatic EIS analyzes the potential environmental impacts from activities that could occur based on the proposed schedule of lease sales.

 

The Final Programmatic EIS analyzes the potential environmental impacts from activities that could occur based on the proposed schedule of lease sales in the Proposed Final Program. The Secretary considers the analyses in the Final Programmatic EIS together with the Proposed Final Program before finalizing the Record of Decision.

 

In addition, BOEM conducts NEPA reviews for each lease area before a lease sale is held, including site-specific analyses, so that the most current data can be incorporated. These additional NEPA reviews also include opportunities for public involvement; additional public comment opportunities are included after publication.

A Record of Decision is the final step in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for an environmental impact statement. It is a public document that records a Federal agency’s decision concerning a proposed action for which the agency has prepared an environmental impact statement. For the 2024–2029 National OCS Program, the Secretary issued a combined decision memo and Record of Decision. The Decision memo is required under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), and the Record of Decision is required under NEPA.

After obtaining a lease, a company must file an exploration plan before drilling any wells, and that plan is subject to a technical and environmental review by BOEM and regulatory supervision by BSEE. Once an oil and gas resource discovery is made that the company is interested in developing, it must file a development and production plan for BOEM to again conduct a technical and environmental review before production can begin. For major facilities, BSEE conducts an onsite inspection before allowing production to begin. Often this is a joint inspection with the U.S. Coast Guard. Air emissions permits and water discharge permits must also be obtained as required by law. BSEE has inspectors that fly daily offshore to conduct safety and environmental inspections.

 

The timeline of an oil and gas lease can vary depending on whether hydrocarbons are found on the lease.  By statute, a lease is granted for a primary term of 5 years, unless BOEM determines that the lease is in unusually deep water or involves other unusually adverse conditions, in which case the maximum primary term is 10 years.

 

The primary term is specified in the Notice of Sale prior to a lease sale and is included in the lease itself. To maintain a lease beyond the primary term, lessees must be undertaking operations with the objective of establishing production or demonstrating production of oil and gas in paying quantities.

 

Once a lease enters production, it is considered held by production, and the lessee may retain the lease as long as it continues producing in paying quantities and other lease requirements are met. If a lease enters production, it can produce for 40-70 years, depending on its location and conditions.

The President and Congress can enact new legislation, or the President can withdraw areas of the OCS from consideration for leasing using the authority in Section 12(a) of the OCS Lands Act. In either case, this could alter the scope of USDOI’s future offshore leasing activities.

The first National OCS Program took effect in 1980 and covered the years 1980-1985. Any sales prior to 1980 were done on a sale-by-sale basis. (See Past Programs Tab)

 

Program# Effective Date Number of Sales*
1st 1980 - 1985 36
2nd 1982 - 1987 41
3rd 1987 - 1992 37
4th 1992 - 1997 18
5th 1997 - 2002 16
6th 2002 - 2007 20
7th 2007 - 2012 21
8th 2012 - 2017 11
9th 2017 - 2022 11
10th 2024 - 2029 3

Chapter 4 of the 2024-2029 Proposed Final Program document discusses leasing background, history and status for all OCS regions and includes summary maps and charts.

 

*Please note that the number of sales shown is the maximum number of potential sales authorized for a given National OCS Program. All sales included in a National OCS Program may not have been held.

National OCS Program Development Cycles 
Cycle Program years Effective dates
1 1980 - 1985 June 1, 1980–May 31, 1985
(remanded October 6, 1981; replaced with 1982–1987 Program)
2 1982 - 1987 July 21, 1982–June 30, 1987
3 1987 - 1992 July 1, 1987–June 30, 1992
4 1992 - 1997 July 1, 1992–June 30, 1997
5 1997 - 2002 July 1, 1997–June 30, 2002
6 2002 - 2007 July 1, 2002–June 30, 2007
7 2007 - 2012 July 1, 2007–June 30, 2012
(remanded April 17, 2009; revised 2007–2012 Program effective December 1, 2010)
8 2012 - 2017 August 27, 2012–August 26, 2017
9 2017 - 2022 July 1, 2017–June 30, 2022
10 2024 - 2029 July 1, 2024, – June 30, 2029