Trump Administration Proposes Largest Oil and Gas Lease Sale in U.S. History

offshore oil rig
Photo: Shutterstock / Leo Francini

The U.S. Department of Interior has proposed the largest oil and gas lease sale ever held in the United States, which will offer up over 79.9 million acres in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, to oil and gas exploration and development.

The proposed region-wide lease sale covers an area about equivalent to the size of New Mexico  and includes all available unleased areas on the Gulf’s Outer Continental Shelf. The sale is scheduled for March 2018.

“In today’s low-price energy environment, providing the offshore industry access to the maximum amount of opportunities possible is part of our strategy to spur local and regional economic dynamism and job creation and a pillar of President Trump’s plan to make the United States energy dominant,” Secretary Zinke said. “And the economic terms proposed for this sale include a range of incentives to encourage diligent development and ensure a fair return to taxpayers.”

Proposed Lease Sale 250 will be the second offshore sale under the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022. Lease Sale 249, held in New Orleans last August, received $121 million in high bids on 508,096 acres.  The sale offered approximately 76 million acres offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida – the largest single amount of acreage ever offered in the history of the federal offshore program.

The estimated amount of resources projected to be developed as a result of the proposed region-wide lease sale ranges from 0.21 to 1.12 billion barrels of oil and from 0.55 to 4.42 trillion cubic feet of gas. Most of the activity (up to 83% of future production) from the proposed lease sale is expected to occur in the Central Planning Area.

The proposed lease sale will cover 14,375 unleased blocks located from 3 to 230 miles offshore in the Gulf’s Western, Central and Eastern planning areas in water depths ranging from 9 to more than 11,115 feet (three to 3,400 meters).

“American energy production can be competitive while remaining safe and environmentally sound,” said Vincent DeVito, Counselor for Energy Policy at Interior. “People need jobs, the Gulf Coast states need revenue, and Americans do not want to be dependent on foreign oil. We have heard their message loud and clear.”

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) estimates that the OCS contains about 90 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable gas. The Gulf of Mexico OCS, covering about 160 million acres, has technically recoverable resources of over 48 billion barrels of oil and 141 trillion cubic feet of gas.