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The Biden administration will hold no offshore oil and gas lease sales next year and bring the total for the next five-year period to a minimum, Reuters has reported, citing unnamed sources.
This means there will be just three lease sales over the four years beginning in 2025, the report also said. Reuters noted that on average, since 1992, five-year lease sale plans have featured at least 11 lease sales, with most holding between 15 and 20.
According to some of Reuters’ sources, the reduction in lease sales is linked to the Biden administration’s offshore wind expansion plans.
"The administration heard from the offshore wind industry that they need the IRA leasing mandates to be fulfilled to enable the U.S. offshore wind energy to continue to grow," one of the sources told Reuters.
"The number of oil and gas lease sales will be the lowest in history and will enable the rapid expansion of the offshore wind industry," the same source explained.
The link between the two comes from a stipulation in the Inflation Reduction Act, which mandates first holding oil and gas lease sales before being able to hold offshore wind auctions.
The information revealed by the Reuters sources is certain to prompt a reaction from the oil industry just weeks after another lease sale-related news made the headlines when a judge ordered the Interior Department to remove the limitations on the Gulf of Mexico acreage that was to be offered in a lease sale on September 27.
The ruling came after the American Petroleum Institute, Chevron, and the state of Louisiana filed a lawsuit against the federal government for the reduction in the acreage to be offered in the lease sale.
At the same time, environmentalists are also likely to be angered by the latest news as they insist no new lease sales are conducted at all, apparently regardless of what the law says.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com