The US Department of Interior is set to allow oil and gas firms to explore and develop 77.3 million acres offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Anticipated to be conducted on 15 August this year, Lease Sale 251 will include all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The lease sale is consistent with President Donald Trump’s America-first offshore energy strategy announced last year and will be the third offshore sale under the National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas leasing programme for the period between 2017 and 2022.

The programme envisages ten region-wide lease sales for the Gulf, with two sales to be held each year.

As part of the sales, all available blocks in the combined Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas will be offered.

US Department of Interior Land and Minerals Management assistant secretary Joe Balash said: “Responsibly developing our energy resources in the OCS is important to our economy and energy security.

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“Striking the right balance between protecting the environment, powering America and achieving American energy dominance is our ultimate goal.”

“Striking the right balance between protecting the environment, powering America and achieving American energy dominance is our ultimate goal.”

Under the planned sale, energy firms can bid for around 14,474 unleased blocks, which are located between three and 231 miles offshore in the Gulf’s Western, Central and Eastern planning areas.

The blocks are located in water depths ranging from 9ft to more than 11,115ft.

Covering about 160 million acres, the Gulf of Mexico OCS is said to hold around 48 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 141 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable gas.

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) acting director Walter Cruickshank said: “BOEM has a vital role in advancing responsible offshore energy development.

“Protecting the environment while providing for our energy needs is essential to our mission.

“This lease sale is a just one piece of the Administration’s comprehensive effort to secure our Nation’s energy future and benefit the economy.”