The US Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) has proposed to offer blocks spanning 78 million acres for a region-wide lease sale scheduled for August 2019, in support of the US Government’s Offshore Energy Strategy.

Under the 2017-2022 National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program, 10 region-wide lease sales are scheduled for the Gulf of Mexico with two lease sales held each year.

The Gulf of Mexico OCS covers approximately 160 million acres, and is estimated to contain about 141 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered recoverable gas and about 14 billion barrels of undiscovered recoverable oil.

The sale includes all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This excludes blocks subject to congressional moratorium, adjacent to or beyond the US Economic Zone, or within the boundaries of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

Lease Sale 253 will be the fifth offshore sale under the programme. The sale includes approximately 14,699 unleased blocks in the Gulf’s western, central and eastern planning areas in water depths ranging from 9ft to- -11,115ft.

BOEM assistant secretary Joe Balash said: “Offshore oil and gas resources are essential to our nation’s energy portfolio and America’s energy security.

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“We all benefit from a strong offshore energy programme, which provides thousands of well-paid jobs, and affordable, reliable energy that Americans need to heat homes, fuel our cars, and power our economy.”

The revenue from these leases will be directed to the US Treasury, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Historic Preservation Fund and the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, which border the Gulf Coast.

The leases from the proposed sale include stipulations to protect ‘biologically sensitive resources’ and protected species, as well as avoid potential conflicts associated with oil and gas development in the area.

BOEM acting director Walter Cruickshank said: “Domestic offshore oil and gas development is critical for America’s economy and energy portfolio.

“BOEM’s staff works hard to help ensure future development is done in a manner that addresses our nation’s energy security, while protecting marine life and the environment in which they live.”