The lease sale includes all available unleased areas in the Central Gulf of Mexico Planning Area and is a part of US Government’s strategy to expand domestic energy production.

Scheduled to begin in March of 2016, the proposed Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 241 and Eastern Planning Area Lease Sale 226 will be the ninth and tenth offshore sales under the Administration’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017.

Under the programme, licenses have been offered for over 60 million acres for development, and earned $2.9bn in bid revenues, awarding 1,038 leases.

US BOEM acting director Walter Cruickshank said: "As one of the most productive basins in the world, the Gulf of Mexico is a cornerstone of our domestic energy portfolio, offering vital oil and gas resources that further economic growth and continue to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

"This lease sale is another important step in promoting responsible domestic energy production through the safe, environmentally sound development of the Nation’s offshore energy resources, while ensuring a fair return to the American people."

The Sale 235 will include approximately 7,919 blocks which cover 42.1 million acres from 3nm to 230nm offshore, in water depths ranging from 9ft to more than 11,00ft.

According to BOEM, the sale may result in the production of 460 million to 894 million barrels of oil, and 1.9 trillion to 3.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Additionally, the Sale 226 involves approximately 175 blocks encompassing 595,475 acres, located at least 125nm offshore in water depths ranging up to 10,213ft.

The lease sale is expected to produce 71 million barrels of oil and 162 billion cubic feet of natural gas, according to BOEM.

Image: The outer continental shelf oil and gas leasing program of the US makes available all offshore areas with the highest resource potential. Photo: courtesy of num_skyman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.