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The US Department of the Interior (DOI) has unveiled its draft strategy for offshore oil and gas leasing.

The move marks another step in the development of the country’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022.

The Draft Proposed Program (DPP) includes 14 potential lease sales in eight planning areas. Of the total lease sales, ten are in the Gulf of Mexico, three are off the coast of Alaska, and one lies in a portion of the Mid and South Atlantic.

According to the DOI, the public will have several opportunities to provide input before the programme is finalised.

Under the OCS Lands Act, the Secretary of the Interior will prepare a five-year programme that includes a schedule of potential oil and gas lease sales.

The draft strategy indicates the size, timing and location of the planned leasing activity as identified to best meet national energy needs and addresses a range of economic, environmental and social concerns.

US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said: "The safe and responsible development of our nation’s domestic energy resources is a key part of the president’s efforts to support American jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

"This is a balanced proposal that would make available nearly 80% of the undiscovered technically recoverable resources, while protecting areas that are simply too special to develop."

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management manages around 6,000 active OCS leases, covering more than 32 million acres.

In 2013, OCS oil and gas leases accounted for around 18% of domestic oil production and 5% of domestic natural gas production.


Image: The Draft Proposed Program (DPP) includes 14 potential lease sales in eight planning areas. Photo: courtesy of US Department of the Interior.