The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has held an oil and gas Lease Sale 235 for the Central Gulf of Mexico.

The sale, which builds on the first six sales held under the Obama Administration’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017, attracted $539m in high bids for tracts on the US Outer Continental Shelf offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Offering over 60 million acres for development, the five-year programme attained $2.4bn in bid revenues, and awarded 877 leases.

It includes 75% of the nation’s undiscovered, technically recoverable offshore oil and gas resources.

"As one the most productive basins in the world, the Gulf of Mexico continues to be the keystone of the Nation’s offshore oil and gas resources."

A total of 195 bids were received from 42 offshore energy companies on 169 tracts, covering approximately 923,700ac, totalling $583m.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who opened the lease sale, said: "The Gulf remains a critical component of our nation’s energy portfolio, and holds important energy resources that spur economic opportunities for Gulf producing states, creating jobs and home-grown energy, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

"While this sale reflects today’s market conditions and industry’s current development strategy, it underscores a steady, continued interest in developing these federal offshore oil and gas resources."

BOEM director Abigail Ross Hopper said: "As one the most productive basins in the world, the Gulf of Mexico continues to be the keystone of the Nation’s offshore oil and gas resources.

"The recent drop in oil prices and continued low natural gas prices obviously affect industry’s short-term investment decisions, but the Gulf’s long-term value to the nation remains high and the president’s energy strategy continues to offer millions of offshore acres for development, while protecting the human, marine and coastal environments, and ensuring a fair return to the American people."

Lease Sale 235 offered 7,788 unleased blocks, encompassing 41.2 million acres, located from 3nm to 230nm offshore in water depths ranging from 9ft to more than 11,115ft.

According to BOEM, the sale may result in the production of 460 million to 890 million barrels of oil, and 1.9 trillion to 3.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The lease sale also included 201 blocks located, or partially located, within the three statute mile US-Mexico Boundary Area, and blocks within the former Western Gap.