Western Gulf of Mexico lease sale opens 21.9 million acres for drilling

07 17, 2015 by The Times-Picayune

The federal government will open waters offshore Texas in August for new oil and gas drilling. The sale will be the eighth under President Barack Obama administration's five-year offshore leasing plan.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said Thursday (July 16) it will put 21.9 million acres up for lease at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on August 19. The leasing area covers water depths ranging from a few dozen feet to more than 10,000 feet.

The administration has held seven offshore lease sales under its 2012-2017 leasing plan, including a blockbuster June 2012 sale that drew a record $1.7 million in high bids from oil companies staking out acreage in the central Gulf of Mexico. The sales have resulted in $2.9 billion in revenue total.

The federal government in March opened 41.2 million acres off the coast of Louisiana for drilling. High bids totaled more than $538.7 million.

See the oil companies with the top five highest bids during the March sale.
It is unclear how low oil prices will affect the number of oil companies participating in the August sale. Officials blamed oil prices for a lower-than-expected turnout in March. Crude oil prices fell from more than $100 per barrel last summer to less than $50 earlier this year.

The per-barrel price for West Texas Intermediate crude oil -- the U.S. benchmark -- was $50.90 during Thursday afternoon trading.