Final notice for next OCS lease sale includes revised terms

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issued a final notice for a Dec. 14 offshore oil and gas lease sale in New Orleans which includes revised terms and requirements. The sale in the western Gulf of Mexico will be the last under the current 5-year US Outer Continental Shelf program, US Department of the Interior officials noted on Nov. 10.

It follows completion of a supplemental environmental impact statement analyzing effects of the crude oil spill into the gulf following the 2010 Macondo deepwater well incident, according to BOEM Director Tommy P. Boudreau. “The decision to hold this sale was made after careful analysis of the best scientific information available regarding the effects [of that spill],” he said.

BOEM said the sale will offer 3,913 unleased blocks covering more than 21 million acres nine to 250 miles off the Texas coast in water from 16 to more than 10,975 ft deep. It estimated that the lease sale could result in production of 222-423 million bbl of crude oil and 1.49-1.65 tcf of gas.

The notice included an increase in the minimum bid for blocks in water 1,312 ft or deeper to $100/acre from $37.50/acre. BOEM said that the change was made after an analysis of gulf lease sales in the last 15 years, adjusted for prices at the time of each sale, found that leases receiving bids which were less than $100/acre had virtually no exploration and development. The minimum bid for leases in shallower water remains $25/acre, it added.

The DOI agency said that the lease sale package also included environmental stipulations requiring that operators protect biologically sensitive features, as well as marine mammals and sea turtles. These stipulations will require trained observers to ensure compliance and restrict operations when conditions warrant, it indicated.

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