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45 Million Acres Of Oil And Gas Leases Under The Hammer Here

Close to 45 million acres of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico will go up for sale next month, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced today.

The majority of the leases are in the Central Gulf area, specifically off the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. Depths here range broadly from nine feet to over 11,000 feet, but many of the leases are repeats that have been up for grabs in the past.

The second sale includes two leases for the Eastern Planning Area south of eastern Alabama and western Florida, encompassing 162 “whole or partial unleased blocks covering about 595,475 acres” in water depths ranging from 2,657 feet to 10,213 feet.

Related: Saudi Arabia’s Credit Rating Cut Two Levels

These will be the ninth and 10th offshore auctions under the auspices of the Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing program for 2012-2017.

To date, the U.S. has leased more than 60 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, and taken in $3 billion in bids over eight auctions.

The Energy Information Agency (EIA) projected today that crude oil production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico should increase to record high levels next year, adding more woes to the ongoing global supply glut.

Related: Storage Problems Could Cause A Rout In Oil Prices

On average, for this year the U.S. Gulf of Mexico will produce 1.63 million barrels per day, which will rise to 1.79 million barrels per day next year. By December this year, the EIA estimates that the U.S. Gulf of Mexico will be producing 1.91 million barrels per day.

In 2017, the Gulf of Mexico will likely account for 21 percent of total U.S. crude oil production, up from 18 percent of total production for this year.

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Eight projects were launched in the Gulf of Mexico last year, including three run by Shell, two by Texas-based Noble Energy, and one each by ExxonMobil, Anadarko, and LLOG Exploration. Shell, Noble and Anadarko also each have projects slated to launch this year.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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