On September 29, 2023, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced the availability of the 2024–2029 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Final Program (PFP) and corresponding Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
The 2024–2029 PFP includes three potential OCS oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Program Area (See Sale Schedule Tab), which includes 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 Document
- Notice of Availability for the Proposed Final Program Document and Final Programmatic EIS
- Final Programmatic EIS
- Economic Analysis Methodology for the 2024–2029 National OCS Program
- Oil and Gas Economic Modeling Documentation
- GIS files for the 2024–2029 Proposed Final Program
Following the publication of the PFP and Final Programmatic EIS, a 60-day waiting period is required before the Secretary can approve the 2024-2029 National OCS Program via a combined decision memo and Record of Decision.
|2024–2029 National OCS Program Development Full Process and Documents|
|Phase||Official Notice||National OCS Program Document||Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)||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
(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:
|July 8, 2022 – October 6, 2022||BOEM-2022-0031|
|PFP and Final Programmatic EIS||Federal Register Notice of Availability
October 2, 2023
(includes the Secretary’s Final Proposal)
|Final Programmatic EIS:
|60-day Waiting Period|
|Decision Memo and Record of Decision||Will become available after the 60-day waiting period expires|
After consideration of the OCS 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 determined that three potential lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Program Area would be included in the 2024–2029 Proposed Final Program. The GOM Program Area is comprised 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
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 lease sales for a 5-year period in a 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.
The development of the National OCS Program includes five steps with three opportunities for public comment, as outlined in the table below.
|National OCS Program Development Process|
|Request for Information and Comment (RFI)||
|45-day Comment Period|
|Draft Proposed Program (DPP)||
|60-day Comment Period|
|90-day Comment Period|
|Proposed Final Program (PFP)||
|60-day Waiting Period for the President and Congress|
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Process
The National OCS Program documents dovetail with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to meet the robust requirements and factors of Section 18.
- Since several of the Section 18 requirements and factors closely align with the requirements of NEPA, the National
OCS Program development process incorporates the NEPA process through the preparation of an Environmental
- Typically, winnowing occurs during each of the analytical phases and only those program areas and subarea options that
the Secretary decides are appropriate to carry forward for further analysis are included in the next analytical document.
- The decision to include areas in a potential lease sale schedule is based on the evaluation of specific OCS Lands
Act Section 18 requirements and factors (See Requirements & Factors tab) when selecting the size, timing,
and location of proposed lease sales that best meet national energy needs.
After National OCS Program Approval
For a lease sale to be held, it must be included in an approved National OCS Program. A lease sale cannot be added to an existing, approved 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 the 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 term ranging from 5 to 10 years, depending on water depth, to explore and develop the lease. 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-Lease and Post-Lease processes are outlined in greater detail in the figure below.
Click on the accordions below to learn more about the development of the National OCS Program.
Information about the National OCS Program process.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Equitable sharing of developmental benefits and environmental risks among the regions;
- Existing information on geographical, geological, and ecological characteristics of regions;
- Location of regions with respect to, and the relative needs of, regional and national energy markets;
- 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;
- Expressed interest of potential oil and gas producers in the development of oil and gas resources;
- Laws, goals, and policies of affected states, identified by Governors as relevant matters for the Secretary’s consideration;
- Relative environmental sensitivity and marine productivity of different OCS areas; and
- 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 EIS present the latest analysis of these requirements and factors (See What's New? 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 NEPA process for an environmental impact statement. It is a concise public document that records a federal agency’s decision concerning a proposed action for which the agency has prepared an Environmental Impact Statement. In the instance of the 2024-2029 National OCS Program, the Secretary will issue a combined decision memo and Record of Decision. The Decision memo is required under the OCS Lands Act, 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 #||Program||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||TBD|
Chapter 4 of the 2024-2029 PFP 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|