Oil and gas lease sale today

12 14, 2011 by Daily Advertiser

Today, for the first time since before the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, a major oil and gas lease sale will be held for exploration in the western Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will be in New Orleans today to open the lease sale at 9 a.m. at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Lease Sale 218 covers more than 21 million acres in the western Gulf of Mexico that are not leased. They are the remaining blocks from the 2007-12 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Natural Gas Leasing Program.

This is the first lease sale in the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon disaster last year, which brought about changes in safety regulations and permitting of the industry.

It's also the first sale since the western Gulf lease sale in August 2009. Twenty companies have submitted 241 bids on 191 tracts. By comparison, in the August 2009 sale, 27 companies submitted 189 bids on 162 tracts.

"Obviously it's a huge milestone for the industry," Chris John, president of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, said Tuesday.

John said he's proud of the industry for coming such a long way in strengthening safety and responsibility at drilling sites. The early bids, "which are very high for the western Gulf of Mexico, "» shows there is still a lot of exploration and production to be done in the Gulf of Mexico," he said.

U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, in a written statement, said "South Louisiana has suffered long enough due to the overbearing restrictions imposed on the oil and natural gas industry in the region" following the Deepwater Horizon

explosion and oil spill.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimates today's sale could generate 222 to 423 million barrels of oil and 1.49 to 2.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

"I look forward to seeing how much economic benefit Louisiana gets from those lease sales," John said.