The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in the US has unveiled plans to offer around 78.8 million acres for a region-wide lease sale that would feature unleased areas available in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Scheduled for November 2020, the latest Lease Sale 256 will be the seventh offshore sale under the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

The sale is expected to include 14,755 unleased blocks.

Blocks that are subject to the congressional moratorium established by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 are excluded from the lease sale.

Additionally, the offshore blocks located adjacent to or beyond the US Exclusive Economic Zone, as well as whole and partial blocks within the current boundaries of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary are not part of the lease sale.

BOEM Gulf of Mexico Region director Mike Celata said: “The Gulf of Mexico provides a fundamental role for our nation’s energy portfolio.

“As one of the most productive basins in the world, the development of its resources is essential to our nation’s energy security.”

Originally, Lease Sale 256 was scheduled for August but it was deferred to accommodate additional analyses of the oil and gas industry following the Covid-19 crisis.

The 160 million-acre Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is estimated to host around 48 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 141 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable gas.

The revenues generated from the lease sale are directed to the US Treasury, certain Gulf Coast states, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the Historic Preservation Fund.