February 8, 2013
Oil and gas prospectors will be able to bid on leases March 20 to explore and develop petroleum resources in the central Gulf of Mexico as part of the Obama administration’s five-year leasing program for the region.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Tommy Beaudreau, director of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, announced the upcoming sale in a February 7 press release. They predicted that the yield from the leased areas, consisting of 15.6 million hectares offshore of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, could be as high as 1 billion barrels of oil and 113 billion cubic meters of natural gas.
The March 20 auction in New Orleans will be the first of five central Gulf of Mexico lease sales to be held under the Obama administration’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012 to 2017.
According to the press release, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management conducted an extensive environmental review and published a Final Environmental Impact Statement in July 2012 with analysis in support of the five-year program.
“The terms of this sale include conditions to ensure both orderly resource development and protection of the human, marine and coastal environments. These 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 press release said.
Salazar said the Obama administration is committed to developing domestic energy resources to reduce U.S. dependence on oil imports, as well as to boost job creation and economic opportunities inside the United States.
“Exploration and development of the Gulf of Mexico’s vital energy resources will continue to help power our nation and drive our economy,” he said.
Beaudreau described the central Gulf region as “one of the bedrocks” of the U.S. energy portfolio and said the sale of leases “is another important step to promote responsible domestic energy production through the safe, environmentally sound exploration and development of the nation’s offshore oil and gas resources.”
U.S. domestic oil production is at its highest level in nearly 10 years, and its natural gas production is the highest on record. Less than 50 percent of oil consumed inside the United States is imported, the lowest level since 1995, according to the press release.