Today, as part of what President Obama is calling the “all-of-the-above energy strategy” to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced it will hold an oil and gas lease sale. This is one more bit of evidence that President Obama is keeping his campaign promise to “harnessing domestic energy” in an environmentally safe and responsible manner that will reduce dependence of foreign oil sources.
The sale will make more than 20 million offshore acres available, according to a release by the Department of Interior, and represents all unleased areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area.
The Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale builds on two major Gulf of Mexico lease sales in the past year alone, a 21 million acre sale held last December and a 39 million acre sale held in June.
“At President Obama’s direction, his Administration continues to implement a comprehensive, all-of-the-above energy strategy, expanding domestic production, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and supporting jobs,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “Developing public energy resources in the Gulf of Mexico continues to generate much needed revenue for local communities while helping to power our nation and fuel our economy.”
The lease sale will be held on Nov. 28, 2012 at 9:00 AM CDT, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Administration’s goal of continuing to increase domestic oil and gas production, which has grown each year the President has been in office, with domestic oil production in 2011 higher than any time in nearly a decade and natural gas production at its highest level ever. Foreign oil imports now account for less than 50 percent of the oil consumed in America – the lowest level since 1995.
The offshore lease sale will be the first held under the Administration’s new Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012–2017 (Five Year Program), which makes available for exploration and development all of the offshore areas with the highest conventional resource potential that together include more than 75 percent of the Nation’s undiscovered, technically recoverable offshore oil and gas resources. BOEM also recently announced that the next Central Gulf of Mexico lease sale, proposed Lease Sale 227, will take place on Mar. 20, 2013, making 38 million acres available.
“BOEM is committed to promoting the safe development of the Nation’s critical offshore oil and gas resources while taking steps to safeguard the marine and coastal communities,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “This sale represents a key component of the President’s comprehensive, all-of-the-above energy strategy and the regionally tailored and responsible approach that we are taking under the Five Year Program.”
The sale will include all available unleased areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area – encompassing 3,873 blocks and covering roughly 20.8 million acres, located from nine to 250 miles offshore, in water depths ranging from 16 to more than 10,975 feet (five to 3,346 meters). BOEM estimates the proposed lease sale could result in the production of 116 to 200 million barrels of oil and 538 to 938 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
The most recent sale in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning area, Western Gulf of Mexico Sale 218, took place on December 14, 2011. BOEM awarded 181 leases on tracts covering 1,036,205 acres to the successful high bidders who participated in the sale. The accepted high bids were valued at $324,971,001. The most recent sale in the Central Gulf of Mexico Planning area, Central Gulf of Mexico Sale 216/222, took place on June 20, 2012. BOEM awarded 442 leases on tracts covering 2,335,646 acres to the successful high bidders who participated in the sale. The accepted high bids were valued at $1,681,578,390.
BOEM established the terms for the sale after extensive environmental analysis, public comment and consideration of the best scientific information available. These terms include measures to protect the environment, such as stipulations requiring that operators protect biologically sensitive features and provide trained observers to monitor marine mammals and sea turtles to ensure compliance and restrict operations when conditions warrant. The terms also continue a range of incentives to encourage diligent development and ensure a fair return to taxpayers — including an increased minimum bid for deepwater tracts, escalating rental rates and tiered durational terms with relatively short base periods followed by additional time under the same lease if the operator drills a well during the initial period.
During the sale, BOEM will open 131 bids submitted by 13 companies on 116 offshore blocks. Following the bid reading, BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau and Gulf of Mexico Regional Director John Rodi will announce the results.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books