Planned Gulf lease sale to open 38 million acres for oil, gas drilling

02 07, 2013 by The Times-Picayune

Federal regulators firmed up plans Thursday (Feb. 7) to put more than 38 million acres in the central Gulf of Mexico up for bid to offshore energy producers in March, the Obama administration said.

The lease sale, slated for March 20 in New Orleans, will include about 7,250 federally owned drilling tracts, 3 to 230 miles off the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. The blocks are in water depths of 9 to more than 11,115 feet, the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which regulates offshore drilling, said in an announcement.

The sale could lead to the production of 460 million to 890 million barrels of oil, and 1.9 trillion to 3.9 trillion cubic feet of gas resources, according to federal regulators.

The most recent lease sale, which included more than 20 million acres in the western Gulf of Mexico, was held in November. Nearly $134 million in high bids were accepted; all but $4.6 million was for areas in the deepwater Gulf. Some of the money will make its way back to Louisiana, where the state Constitution requires it go to coastal protection and restoration projects.