Interior announces region-wide OCS gulf Lease Sale 251

The US Department of the Interior announced plans to hold a Gulf of Mexico region-wide oil and gas lease sale on Aug. 15 offering 77.3 million acres offshore Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. Lease Sale 251, which would include all unleased areas in the gulf, would be the third held under the 2017-22 federal OCS leasing program, officials said.

The US Department of the Interior announced plans to hold a Gulf of Mexico region-wide oil and gas lease sale on Aug. 15 offering 77.3 million acres offshore Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. Lease Sale 251, which would include all unleased areas in the gulf, would be the third held under the 2017-22 federal OCS leasing program, officials said. All terms were included in the Proposed Notice of Sale, which was posted online on Apr. 2.

The 2017-22 program called for 10 region-wide sales in the gulf where resource potential and industry interest is high and oil and gas transportation systems are well established, they noted. Two region-wide sales were scheduled each year and would include all available blocks in the combined western, central, and eastern gulf planning areas.

Interior announced a draft proposed 2019-24 US Outer Continental Shelf planning program in January, which is several months from becoming final. It also has proposed a call for information and nominations for a proposed 2019 Beaufort Sea lease sale offshore Alaska, which would be part of that program (OGJ Online, Mar. 29, 2018).

The 160 million-acre gulf OCS contains an estimated 48 billion bbl of undiscovered technically recoverable crude oil and 141 tcf of undiscovered technically recoverable natural gas, DOI said.

Sale No. 251, which will take place live online from New Orleans, will include 14,474 unleased blocks 3-231 miles offshore in 9-11,115 ft of water.

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which will conduct the lease sale, has included appropriate fiscal terms that consider market conditions and ensure taxpayers receive a fair return, Acting BOEM Director Walter D. Cruickshank noted. These include a 12.5% royalty rate for leases in less than 200 m of water, and an 18.75% royalty rate for all other leases issued in the sale that reflects current hydrocarbon prices and the marginal nature of remaining shallow water resources in the gulf, he said.

The sale’s announcement came 8 days after a similar region-wide lease sale generated nearly $125 million in apparent high bids for 148 tracts in the gulf’s federal waters (OGJ Online, Mar. 21, 2018). “While the bidding activity today reflects improving, yet still lower than desired, commodity prices, both the number of bids submitted and the total amount of high bids received are up compared to the August 2017 sale figures,” National Ocean Industries Association Pres. Randall B. Luthi said immediately afterward.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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