The US Department of the Interior (DOI) said that its agency Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has proposed to hold an auction for 78 million acres of oil and gas lease in the Gulf of Mexico.
Dubbed as Lease Sale 253, the sale is scheduled for August 2019, and will include all available unleased areas in the US federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, said DOI.
Nearly 14,699 unleased blocks will be up for sale in Lease Sale 253, which are located in the range of 4.8-371.7km offshore, in the Western, Central and Eastern planning areas of the US Gulf of Mexico.
The offered blocks are contained in water depths in the range of 3-3,400m.
DOI Land and Minerals Management Assistant Secretary Joe Balash said: “Offshore oil and gas resources are essential to our nation’s energy portfolio and America’s energy security.
“We all benefit from a strong offshore energy program, which provides thousands of well-paid jobs, and affordable, reliable energy that Americans need to heat homes, fuel our cars, and power our economy.”
Lease Sale 253, which will be held at New Orleans, will be the fifth offshore sale to be taken up under the 2017-2022 National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program.
Under the leasing program, the Gulf of Mexico will see 10 region-wide lease sales with two lease sales to be undertaken each year.
According to DOI, the Gulf of Mexico OCS, which spans nearly 160 million acres, is estimated to hold close to 48 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil along with 141 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable gas.
The federal department said that leases emerging from the proposed sale would cover stipulations to protect biologically sensitive resources, mitigate potential adverse impact on protected species in addition to avoiding potential conflicts pertaining to oil and gas development in the region.
BOEM Acting Director Dr. Walter Cruickshank said: “Domestic offshore oil and gas development is critical for America’s economy and energy portfolio.
“BOEM’s staff works hard to help ensure future development is done in a manner that addresses our nation’s energy security, while protecting marine life and the environment in which they live.”