Planned Gulf lease sale to open 20 million acres off Texas coast for drilling

10 26, 2012 by The Times-Picayune

Federal regulators firmed up plans Thursday to put more than 20 million acres off the coast of Texas up for bid to offshore energy producers next month, the Obama administration announced. The lease sale, which is scheduled to be held Nov. 28 in New Orleans, marks the first offering of federally-owned oil and natural gas drilling tracts under the administration's new five-year plan for leasing on the outer continental shelf.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which regulates offshore drilling, estimates that the proposed sale could lead to the production of 116 to 200 million barrels of oil and 538 to 938 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

In the most recent lease sale in the western Gulf of Mexico, which was held in December, federal regulators accepted almost $325 million in bids for 181 drilling tracts, which spanned more than 1 million acres. Some of the money will make its way back to Louisiana, where it the constitution now requires it go to coastal protection and restoration projects.

The lease sale is one of two the federal government has scheduled in the coming months. In the central Gulf, regulators will put 38 million acres located off the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi up for bid in March.