If you were hoping to get in on some of the action in offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, time is running out. On Thursday the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) gave final notice of an upcoming sale of nearly 38 million acres of offshore leases.
Those leases run an area from three to 230 miles off the coast, the BOEM says, and range anywhere from nine feet to more than two miles deep. The bureau estimates that there’s somewhere around 31 billion barrels of oil and 134 trillion cubic feet of natural gas waiting there that are “currently undiscovered and technically recoverable.” (But they say the actual production would likely be much less, resulting in 1 billion barrels of oil and 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.)
The sale takes place June 20th at the Mercedez-Benz Superdome. But bids must be submitted by mail no later than June 19th. The Department says that the minimum bid for deepwater leases is $100 per acre.
The sale had been put on hold following the 2010 BP Oil spill disaster at the Deepwater Horizon rig. So what’s being done to prevent that from happening again? In a statement earlier this year, the Department of Interior laid out some of the requirements for drillers wanting a piece of the Gulf:
“These include stipulations to protect biologically sensitive resources, mitigate potential adverse effects on protected species, and avoid potential conflicts associated with oil and gas development in the region. BOEM completed a supplemental environmental impact statement relating to this sale, which considers the latest available information for the Central Gulf of Mexico Planning Area following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.”
As we reported in January, public opposition to the sales has been muted. At one public hearing in Houston, only six people showed up.
Once the sale is complete, it will mark the end of the government’s 2007 – 2012 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Natural Gas Leasing Program. Another five-year program is in the works for 2012-2017, which the Department of Interior says will make 75 percent of the “undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas” thought to be in the Outer Continental Shelf of the Gulf open to drilling.