By the OGJ Online Staff
WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 26 -- The US Minerals Management Service Friday proposed a 2002-07 offshore lease sale schedule that is unchanged from the draft it issued in July.
The schedule does not propose a sale in any area currently under congressional spending moratoriums or presidential withdrawals. Those areas are off the East and West coasts and in parts of the eastern Gulf of Mexico (OGJ Online, July 20, 2001).
The schedule calls for 20 sales. The usual central and western gulf sales would be held annually, and eastern gulf sales in 2003 and 2005.
The rest of the sales would be off Alaska. They include Beaufort Sea and Norton basin sales in 2003; Cook Inlet/Shelikof Strait and Chukchi Sea/Hope basin sales in 2004; a Beaufort Sea sale in 2005; a Cook Inlet/Shelikof Strait sale in 2006; and Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea/Hope basin sales in 2007.
MMS will accept comments on the proposed program until Jan. 24. It will hold public hearings Dec. 3-7 in Anchorage, Soldotna, Kotzebue, Homer, Nome, Kodiak, and Barrow, Alas. Hearings will be held Dec. 10 in Houston, Dec. 11 in New Orleans, and Dec. 12 in Mobile.
The agency plans to issue a final schedule in April, which if unchanged by Congress, would take effect July 1.
MMS also released an assessment of conventionally recoverable hydrocarbon resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf as of Jan. 1, 1999.
The study said more than half of the oil and gas total in place in the northern Gulf of Mexico remains to be discovered, with mean undiscovered resources of 71 billion boe. That compares with the 65 billion boe of reserves (including cumulative production and reserves appreciation).
And MMS issued the first programmatic, grid-based environmental assessment (Grid EA) for deepwater oil and gas projects.
Gulf Regional Director Chris Oynes said, "This process holds the potential for bringing domestic oil and gas deposits into production in a more effective timeframe without sacrificing environmental values or careful environmental review."
MMS said once a programmatic EA has been completed for a particular grid, another EA will not be necessary for most projects.
The Grid EA was prepared for Kerr-McGee Oil and Gas Corp.'s Nansen project on East Breaks blocks 602 and 646. Several more Grid EA's are in progress.