JULY 14, 2017—The U.S. Department of the Interior is to offer 75.9 million acres offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for oil and gas exploration and development in a region-wide lease sale scheduled for August 16, 2017. It will include all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and provide a reduced royalty rate for shallow water leases to encourage exploration and production under current market conditions.
Lease Sale 249, scheduled to be livestreamed from New Orleans, will be the first offshore sale under the National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022. Under this program, ten region-wide lease sales are scheduled for the Gulf, where resource potential and industry interest are high, and oil and gas infrastructure is well established. Two Gulf lease sales will be held each year and will include all available blocks in the combined Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas.
On June 29, President Trump and Secretary Zinke announced the public comment period for a new Five-Year National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program. The comment period is the first step in executing the new program. The 2017-2022 Program, which begins with the lease sale announced today, will continue to be executed until the new National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program is complete.
Lease Sale 249 will include about 14,220 unleased blocks, located from three to 231 miles offshore, in the Gulf’s Western, Central and Eastern planning areas in water depths ranging from nine to more than 11,115 feet (three to 3,400 meters). Excluded from the lease sale are blocks subject to the Congressional moratorium established by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006; blocks that are adjacent to or beyond the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone in the area known as the northern portion of the Eastern Gap; and whole blocks and partial blocks within the current boundary of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
The lease sale terms include stipulations to protect biologically sensitive resources, mitigate potential adverse effects on protected species, and avoid potential conflicts associated with oil and gas development in the region.
The terms include a 12.5 percent royalty rate for leases in less than 200 meters of water depth, and a royalty rate of 18.75 percent for all other leases issued pursuant to the sale.
The 12.5 percent royalty rate for leases in less than 200 meters is lower than the proposed 18.75 percent royalty rate for shallow water leases that BOEM published in the Proposed Notice of Sale. The purpose of this change is to adjust the royalty rate to reflect recent market conditions, thereby encouraging competition and continuing to receive a fair and equitable return on oil and gas resources.