As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management today held Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 233, which offered 20.7 million acres and attracted $102,351,712 in high bids for 53 tracts covering 301,006 acres on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore Texas. A total of 12 offshore energy companies submitted 61 bids.
The Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale builds on the first two auctions in the current Five Year Program – a 39-million-acre Central Gulf offering held in March, which netted almost $1.2 billion high bids and a 20-million-acre Western Gulf offering held last November that netted nearly $134 million.
“This offshore oil and gas lease sale supports continued growth in safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management and BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “Over the past fourteen months, the offshore oil and gas industry has invested well over $3 billion in new federal leases in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Today’s sale offered all unleased and non-protected areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico planning area, including 3,864 tracts from nine to more than 250 miles off the coast, in depths ranging from 16 to more than 10,975 feet (five to 3,346 meters). BOEM estimates the lease sale could result in the production of 116 to 200 million barrels of oil and 538 to 938 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
Sale 233 was the third held under the Administration’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012–2017 (Five Year Program), which makes available for exploration and development all of the offshore areas with the highest conventional resource potential that together include more than 75% of the Nation’s undiscovered, technically recoverable offshore oil and gas resources.
Domestic oil and gas production has grown each year the President has been in office, with domestic oil production currently higher than any time in two decades; natural gas production at its highest level ever; and renewable electricity generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources having doubled. Combined with recent declines in oil consumption, foreign oil imports now account for less than 40% of the oil consumed in America – the lowest level since 1988.
Today’s highest bid on a single tract was $30,583,560 submitted by ConocoPhillips Company for Alaminos Canyon Block 475. ConocoPhilips Company also submitted the highest total amount in bonus bids, totaling $50,323,180 on 29 tracts.
BOEM received at least one bid within the three statute mile boundary area north of the continental shelf boundary between the United States and Mexico. Any bids submitted on blocks in the area will not be opened until on or before 30 days following the approval by the U.S. Congress of the agreement between the U.S. and Mexico or February 28, 2014, at which time the Secretary of the Interior may determine whether it is in the best interest of the United States either to open any such bids or to return the bid unopened.
BOEM established the terms for this sale after extensive environmental analysis, public comment and consideration of the best scientific information available. These terms include measures to protect the environment, such as stipulations requiring that operators protect biologically sensitive features and provide trained observers to monitor marine mammals and sea turtles to ensure compliance and restrict operations when conditions warrant.
The terms also continue a range of incentives to encourage diligent development and ensure a fair return to taxpayers, including an increased minimum bid for deepwater tracts, escalating rental rates and tiered durational terms with relatively short base periods followed by additional time under the same lease if the operator drills a well during the initial period.
Following the sale, each bid will now go through a strict evaluation process within BOEM to ensure the public receives fair market value before a lease is awarded. Sale statistics for Sale 233 are available at: http://www.boem.gov/Sale-233.