The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is set to offer contracts for oil and gas exploration and development across 40 million acres in central and eastern Gulf of Mexico planning areas, offshore Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

The latest announcement comes as part of President Obama’s energy strategy to expand domestic energy production.

BOEM director Abigail Ross Hopper said: "As one of the most productive basins in the world, the Gulf of Mexico is a cornerstone of our domestic energy portfolio, offering vital oil and gas resources that further economic growth and continue to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

"This lease sale is another important step in promoting responsible domestic energy production through the safe, environmentally sound development of the nation’s offshore energy resources, while ensuring a fair return to the American people."

"This lease sale is another important step in promoting responsible domestic energy production."

The proposed Gulf of Mexico Central Planning Area (CPA) Lease Sale 241 and Eastern Planning Area Lease Sale 226 are set to take place in New Orleans, Louisiana in March 2016.

CPA Sale 241 will include about 7,919 blocks that cover 42.1 million acres located from three to 230nm offshore and are in water depths ranging from nine to more than 11,000ft.

According to BOEM, the lease sale is estimated to result in the production of up to 894 million barrels of oil, and 3.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Covering 595,475 acres, the EPA Sale 226 will offer around 175 blocks, which are located at least 125 statute miles offshore in water depths ranging from 2,657ft to 10,213ft. The sale is expected to result in the production of 71 million barrels of oil and 162 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

An oil and gas Lease Sale 235 held by BOEM in March for the Central Gulf of Mexico attracted $539m in bids for tracts on the US Outer Continental Shelf offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.