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National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2023-2028

On July 1, 2022, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced the availability of the Proposed Program for the 2023-2028 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program), as well as the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the 2023-2028 Program (Draft PEIS) for public comments.

The Proposed Program includes no more than ten potential lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and an option for one potential lease sale in the northern portion of the Cook Inlet of Alaska. No lease sales are proposed for the other Alaska planning areas, nor for the Atlantic or Pacific planning areas during the five-year period. Click on the “Proposed Lease Schedule” tab above for the proposed schedule.

Inclusion of an area in the Proposed Program is not a final indication that it will be included in the approved National OCS Program or offered in a lease sale. However, any area or sale not included in the Proposed Program will not be considered for inclusion in the 2023–2028 National OCS Program. 

Supplemental Information

Request for Public Comments

A Notice of Availability (NOA) published in the Federal Register on Friday, July 8, 2022. Publication of the NOA initiated a 90-day public comment period, which closed on Thursday, October 6, 2022.

 

Click on the accordions below to read information about the National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program development process, analysis and how to provide comments.

Information about the National OCS Program, the OCS Lands Act, the process and timeline for revising the 5-year schedule of proposed oil and gas lease sales, and other general information about the Proposed Program.
 

National OCS FAQs
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 the Proposed Program. This station also provides information about the economic analysis conducted to inform the Proposed Program, and what economic factors are considered in evaluating a Program area.
 

Proposed Program Net Benefits Estimates: Cook Inlet and Gulf of Mexico
Net-Zero Emissions Goals and the National OCS Program
2023-2028 Proposed Program: Greenhouse Gas Analysis Estimates of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Economic Analysis for the Proposed Program
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


Information about the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Draft PEIS, prepared following the process prescribed by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and in accordance with the April 2022 revised NEPA regulations. The Draft PEIS 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


Information about Renewable Energy, the Coastal Zone Management Act, Marine Minerals, and other programs.

About BOEM
Renewable Energy
Marine Minerals Overview
Marine Acoustics Fact Sheet
Oil & Gas Energy

Publication of the Notice of Availability of the 2023-2028 Proposed Program and Draft PEIS in the Federal Register on July 8, 2022 formally started the 90-day public comment period which will close on Thursday, October 6, 2022.

 

Comments on the Proposed Program or Draft Programmatic EIS may be submitted in one of the following ways: 

 
  1. Through the Regulations.gov web portal:
     
    • Navigate to http://www.regulations.gov and under the Search tab, in the space provided, type in Docket ID: BOEM-2022-0031 to submit comments and to view other comments already submitted. Or go directly to: https://www.regulations.gov/search?filter=BOEM-2022-0031  
    • Information on using www.regulations.gov, including instructions for accessing documents, submitting comments, and viewing the docket after the close of the comment period, is available through the links under the box entitled, “Are you new to this site?” 
  2. Mailed in an envelope labeled “Comments for the 2023-2028 National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Program”
     
    • Mailed or sent by delivery service to:
      Ms. Kelly Hammerle, Chief, National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program Development and Coordination Branch
      Leasing Division, Office of Strategic Resources, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (VAM-LD) 
      45600 Woodland Road
      Sterling, VA 20166-9216 
  3. Oral testimony during the virtual public comment meeting scheduled for 5pm-8pm (ET) Monday, Sept. 12. (Note that comments will be limited to two minutes). 
    To register go to: https://kearnswest.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_1FXGr4cBQhuVfHKTb04_8Q
     
BOEM Comment Tips
Public Comment Period Information

 

After careful consideration of the OCS Lands Act Section 18(a) factors, as well as input from governors and the public, this Proposed Program offers up to ten potential sales in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Region Program Area 1 (which contains the Western GOM Planning Area, most of the Central GOM Planning Area, and a small portion of the Eastern GOM Planning Area), and one potential lease sale in the northern portion of the Cook Inlet Planning Area offshore Alaska. 

2023-2028 Proposed Program Lease Sale Schedule

Count

Sale Number

Year

OCS Region and Program Area

1

262

2023

Gulf of Mexico:  GOM Program Area 1

2

263

2024

Gulf of Mexico:  GOM Program Area 1

3

264

2024

Gulf of Mexico:  GOM Program Area 1

4

265

2025

Gulf of Mexico:  GOM Program Area 1

5

266

2025

Gulf of Mexico:  GOM Program Area 1

6

267

2026

Alaska:  Cook Inlet Program Area

7

268

2026

Gulf of Mexico:  GOM Program Area 1

8

269

2026

Gulf of Mexico:  GOM Program Area 1

9

270

2027

Gulf of Mexico:  GOM Program Area 1

10

271

2027

Gulf of Mexico:  GOM Program Area 1

11

272

2028

Gulf of Mexico:  GOM Program Area 1

The OCS Lands Act (OCSLA) charges the Secretary of the Interior with establishing a schedule of lease sales for a five-year period by evaluating specific factors of OCS regions and selecting the size, timing, and location of proposed OCS lease sales that best meet regional and national energy needs. BOEM is the agency under the Interior Department responsible for administering and advising the Secretary about the National OCS Program. 

When approving a National OCS Program, the OCS Lands Act requires the Secretary to consider eight factors, including the: 

  • Geographical, geological, and ecological characteristics of the OCS regions.  
  • Equitable sharing of developmental benefits and environmental risks among regions. 
  • National and regional energy markets.  
  • Other uses of the resources and OCS. 
  • Expressed industry interest in oil and gas development. 
  • Laws, goals, and policies of affected states as identified by governors. 
  • Environmental sensitivity and marine productivity of different areas of the OCS. 
  • Environmental and predictive information for different areas of the OCS. 

Request for Interest 

The National OCS Program development process for years 2023-2028 started with the broadest consideration of areas available for leasing. 

The first step in the development process, a Request for information, was published in the Federal Register on July 3, 2017, with a 45-day comment period that ended on August 17, 2017. Per statute and consistent with previous efforts, BOEM evaluated all 26 of the OCS planning areas during this first stage and, therefore, requested comments on all areas. 

Draft Proposed Program 

The first of three proposals, the Draft Proposed Program (DPP), was released in January 2018, with a 60-day comment period that ended on March 9, 2018. The DPP included 47 potential lease sales in 25 of the 26 planning areas – 19 sales off the coast of Alaska, 7 in the Pacific Region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and 9 in the Atlantic Region.  

Following publication of the DPP, BOEM considered more than 2 million comments from the public and stakeholders, including governors, Federal agencies, state agencies, local agencies, energy and non-energy industries, Tribal governments, non-governmental organizations, which include environmental advocacy groups, and the public. Comments received in response to the DPP ranged from supporting exploration and development of the entire OCS, to opposing all such exploration and development. Comments can be viewed online at Regulations.gov

Proposed Program and Next Steps 

Release of the Proposed Program follows the 2018 publication of the DPP and is the second in a series of three proposals required before Secretary Haaland can take final action to approve the 2023-2028 Program.

The Secretary requests public and stakeholder input on the Proposed Program to inform the Proposed Final Program – the final of the three proposals - and its accompanying Final PEIS analyses. As such, publication of the Proposed Program initiated a 90-day public comment period, during which four virtual meetings will be held.  

Publication of the NOA in the Federal Register on July 8, 2022, formally starts the 90-day public comment period.

When the Proposed Final Program and Final PEIS are published, the Secretary will wait at least 60 days to officially approve the program and finalize the Record of Decision.   

Oil drilling rig platform over water

The previous Five Year Program information can be found below.

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 currently manages approximately 2,000 active OCS oil and gas leases, covering nearly 11 million acres – the vast majority of which are in the Gulf of Mexico.

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 the five-year period following its approval.

The OCS Lands Act states that the timing and location of exploration, development and production of oil and gas among the OCS regions must be based on a consideration of these eight specific factors:

 

  • Geographical, geological, and ecological characteristics.
  • Developmental benefits and environmental risks of specific areas.
  • Location with respect to regional and national energy markets and needs.
  • Other uses of the sea and seabed.
  • Laws, goals, and policies of affected states as identified by governors.
  • Interest of potential oil and gas producers.
  • Environmental sensitivity and marine productivity.
  • Environmental and predictive information.

 

In determining the timing and location of leasing, the Secretary must balance the potentials for environmental damage, discovery of oil and gas, and adverse impact on the coastal zone.

The Secretary has the discretion to reach a reasonable determination based on all existing factors.

The OCS Lands Act prescribes the major steps for developing a National OCS Program, including opportunities for public comment.  The process includes the following steps for the 2023 – 2028 National Program:

 

  • Request for Information (RFI) - published July 3, 2017, followed by a 45-day public comment period that resulted in 816,000 comments.
  • Draft Proposed Program (DPP) and Notice of Intent to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) - published Jan 2018 with a 60-day public comment period that resulted in about 2 million comments.
  • Proposed Program and Draft PEIS -- published on July 8, 2022, with a 90-day public comment period ending on October 6, 2022.
  • Next steps:
    • Publication of the Proposed Final Program (PFP) and Final PEIS.
    • 60-day Presidential and Congressional waiting period.
    • Secretarial approval of a Final Program.

 

The National OCS Program development process begins with the broadest consideration of areas available for leasing (all 26 OCS planning areas under the RFI) and is narrowed throughout the National OCS Program development and lease sale processes.  The DPP decision included 25 of 26 planning areas, which Secretary Haaland narrowed to four planning areas (three in the Gulf of Mexico and one offshore Alaska) in the Proposed Program.

On July 8, 2022, BOEM published the Proposed Program and Draft PEIS for a 90-day public comment period.

 

The Proposed Program and Draft PEIS puts forward for public review and comment a proposed a range from zero to no more than ten proposed lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Program Area 1 (which includes the Western GOM Planning Area, most of the Central GOM Planning Area, and a small portion of the Eastern GOM Planning area), as well as an option for a potential lease sale in the northern portion of Cook Inlet Planning Area offshore Alaska.

 

Inclusion of an area in the Proposed Program is not a final determination that the area will be included in the PFP.

 

2023–2028 Proposed Program Maximum Potential Lease Sale Schedule

Count

Sale Number

Sale Year

OCS Region and Program Area

1.

262

2023

Gulf of Mexico: GOM Program Area 1

2.

263

2024

Gulf of Mexico: GOM Program Area 1

3.

264

2024

Gulf of Mexico: GOM Program Area 1

4.

265

2025

Gulf of Mexico: GOM Program Area 1

5.

266

2025

Gulf of Mexico: GOM Program Area 1

6.

267

2026

Alaska: Cook Inlet Program Area

7.

268

2026

Gulf of Mexico: GOM Program Area 1

8.

269

2026

Gulf of Mexico: GOM Program Area 1

9.

270

2027

Gulf of Mexico: GOM Program Area 1

10.

271

2027

Gulf of Mexico: GOM Program Area 1

11.

272

2028

Gulf of Mexico: GOM Program Area 1

 

2023–2028 Proposed Program Areas

 

Map displaying the 2023-2028 Proposed Program Area

The publication of the Proposed Program and Draft PEIS on July 8, 2022, initiated a 90-day public comment period. During this time, BOEM is planning to host four virtual public meetings to provide information on the Proposed Program and draft PEIS.

 

After consideration of all comments received in response to the Proposed Program and Draft PEIS, as well as BOEM’s analyses, the Secretary will decide which areas to include in the Proposed Final Program. Once the Proposed Final Program and Final PEIS are submitted to Congress and the President, a 60-day presidential and Congressional waiting period is observed. Afterward, the Secretary may then approve the Final Program and issue the Record of Decision.

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

 

The Final PEIS will analyze the potential environmental impacts from activities that could occur based on the proposed schedule of lease sales in the Proposed Program. The Secretary will consider the Final PEIS together with the PFP analyses when deciding on the schedule of lease sales.

 

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 will also include opportunities for public involvement; additional public comment opportunities are included after publication of the call for information and proposed notice of sale steps of the lease sale process.

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.

After obtaining a lease, a company must file an exploration plan before drilling any wells and that is subject to a technical and environmental review by BOEM and regulatory supervision by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Once a 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 could begin. For major facilities, BSEE conducts an onsite inspection before allowing production to begin. Often this is a joint inspection with the US Coast Guard. Air emissions permits and water discharge permits must also be obtained as required by law. BSEE has inspectors that daily fly offshore to conduct safety and environmental inspections.

In a mature area such as the Gulf of Mexico, it generally takes four to ten years from the time a lease is issued before production begins; shallow waters take less time and deep and ultradeep waters take longer. In a frontier area where leasing has never occurred or not occurred in many years, the time would likely be longer depending on the challenges presented in the area. The Proposed Program document presents this information in Figure 5-1.

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 five years, unless BOEM determines that the lease is located 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 included in the lease itself. In order 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 have other mechanisms, such as Congress enacting new legislation or the President withdrawing areas of the OCS from consideration for leasing under the OCS Lands Act section 12(a), that could alter the scope of the Department’s 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.

 

Program

Number of Sales

1980-1985 

36 

1982-1987 

41 

1987-1992 

37 

1992-1997 

18 

1997-2002 

16 

2002-2007 

20 

2007-2012 

21 

2012-2017 

11 

2017-2022

11

 

Additional historical lease sale data can be found here: https://www.boem.gov/oil-gas-energy/leasing. Chapter 4 of the Proposed Program document discusses leasing background, history and status for all OCS regions and includes summary maps and charts.

The planning areas are for administrative purposes only. They originated with the first program (1980–1985) after the 1978 Amendments to the OCS Lands Act called for a Program. Before that, sales were strictly individually based, and the areas offered were due to industry nominations or as BOEM (then the Minerals Management Service) deemed necessary. A very limited number of blocks were offered for lease in a sale. When the OCS Lands Act required a way to compare areas that may or may not be smaller than regions, planning areas were created. Not all of the OCS had a planning area in the beginning, and some have changed names and area boundaries over time.