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The BOEM has scheduled a region-wide oil and gas lease sale for the Gulf of Mexico, in which it will offer a total 14,696 blocks spanning 78 million acres, which constitutes all the available unleased acreage in federal waters in the Gulf.
“Developing our nation’s offshore energy resources is vital to our economy and energy security,” the Acting Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Walter Cruickshank said. “Our staff is committed to ensuring offshore development is done in an environmentally responsible manner.”
The March lease sale is part of the 2017-2022 offshore lease sale plan – the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program – that was approved by the second Obama administration.
The U.S. outer continental shelf holds technically recoverable reserves estimated at 550 million barrels of oil and 1.25 trillion cu ft of natural gas. The Gulf of Mexico was made the focus of the 2017-2022 plan because of the consistent interest of oil and gas explorers in the area, the high resource potential, and not least, the extensiveness of production infrastructure, a statement from the Department of the Interior from 2017 said. During this period, the Bureau of Land Management will hold two lease sales for the Gulf of Mexico every year.
The Gulf of Mexico contains an estimated 48 billion barrels of technically recoverable crude oil and 141 trillion cu ft of technically recoverable natural gas. Despite the rise of the shale plays in the last two decades, the Gulf has remained a major contributor to the national total in oil and gas production, with oil companies constantly improving their exploration and extraction technology to boost yields and cut costs, making offshore projects more competitive with shale. The Gulf also has an extensive production and transportation infrastructure, which is an additional incentive for oil and gas players to expand their presence there.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.