The US Department of Interior (DOI) is planning to offer 73 million acres for oil and gas exploration and development offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

Scheduled to take place in August 2017, the proposed lease sale 249 will offer the blocks offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

It will be the first offshore sale under the new Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022.

US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said: “Opening more federal lands and waters to oil and gas drilling is a pillar of President Trump’s plan to make the US energy independent.

“The Gulf is a vital part of that strategy to spur economic opportunities for industry, states, and local communities, to create jobs and home-grown energy and to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

The sale will include about 13,725 unleased blocks, located from three to 230 miles offshore, in the Gulf’s Western, Central and Eastern planning areas and in water depths ranging from 9ft to more than 11,115ft.

According to estimates, the proposed region-wide lease sale will result in resources development ranging from 0.211 to 1.118 billion barrels of oil and from 0.547 to 4.424 trillion cubic feet of gas.

US Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) acting director Walter Cruickshank said: “To promote responsible domestic energy production, the proposed terms of this sale have been carefully developed through extensive environmental analysis, public comment, and consideration of the best scientific information available.

“This will ensure both orderly resource development and protection of the environment.”

The US BOEM estimates that the US Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to hold about 90 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable gas.

Image: An offshore rig located in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: courtesy of Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)/ U.S. Department of the Interior.