2001 Maritime

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July 12, 2001

Senate votes for Lease Sale 181 to go ahead
The U.S. Senate today took a bipartisan vote today against blocking offshore Lease Sale 181 in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Senators Bill Nelson and Bob Graham had sought a six month delay on the sale, even though the area now covered by the sale is substantially less than originally proposed—and a lot further away from Florida beaches.

Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton said the vote "reinforces the bipartisan consensus we reached on the issue of exploring for new energy supplies off the coast of Alabama. This is a victory for all Americans who desire environmentally responsible energy production and stable energy prices at the gas pump and in their home-heating bills," said Norton.

"This compromise is based on an underlying belief that using today's technology, we can protect the environment and develop needed energy resources. Since 1985, energy producers in the Gulf of Mexico's Outer Continental Shelf have produced more than five billion barrels of oil. Thanks to American ingenuity and high-tech advances, of that amount, only .001 percent - just one-one-thousandth of a percent - was released. By comparison, naturally occurring oil seeps from the Shelf are 150 times greater than these releases from OCS production.

"The compromise was worked out between my department and the governors of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. All of the governors support it - alongside strong bipartisanship from those state's congressional delegations. The compromise is an example of how we can work with those closest to an issue - people in local communities - to develop our nation's energy in an environmentally responsible way that respects the views of all sides," concluded Norton.

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service issued a proposed Notice of Sale for Sale 181 today.

The sale is tentatively scheduled for December 5, 2001, in New Orleans, Louisiana. The notice of availability of the proposal is published in today's Federal Register.

The sale area encompasses 256 blocks in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf planning area and covers about 1.47 million acres. At present, 23 blocks in this area are under lease. Blocks in this sale are located from 100 miles offshore from the Alabama-Florida state line and over 285 miles from Tampa, Florida. Estimates of undiscovered economically recoverable hydrocarbons in this proposal are 1.25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 185 million barrels of oil.

The 60-day comment period on the Proposed Notice of Sale begins July 13. In accordance with the Coastal Zone Management Act, the MMS will be sending consistency determinations, documenting the proposed Sale’s consistency with State coastal zone management programs, to each of the four affected States. The States will have up to 75 days to comment on the consistency determinations. The final Notice of Sale is expected to be published in October 2001.

The complete package of information related to this proposed notice is available from the MMS website at http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/offshore/egom/sale181.html. In addition, copies of all documents are available from MMS's Gulf of Mexico Regional Office, Public Information Unit, 1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 70123. The toll-free number is 1-800-200-GULF.

Statistical Information (Sale 181)

* Size: 256 blocks; 1.47 million acres

The following terms and conditions apply to each block offered in this sale:
* Primary Lease Terms: 10 Years
Minimum Bids: $37.50 per acre or fraction thereof
Annual Rental Rates: $7.50 per acre or fraction thereof
Royalty Rates: 12 1/2% Royalty
Royalty Suspension: 12 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE)