Following on announcements in May about offshore wind developments in the Atlantic Ocean off Massachusetts and in the Pacific Ocean off California, the US government is now looking at the possibility of commercial wind energy leasing on the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will publish a request for interest (RFI) in the Federal Register tomorrow, June 11, to gauge industry interest in and invite public comment on this potential development offshore the states of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama.
Based on information it receives through this process, BOEM will decide whether to schedule a competitive lease sale, issue a non-competitive lease for any portion of the area or reject development. The Bureau has also indicated in material on its website that it is interested in understanding potential opportunities for other types of renewable energy development in the Gulf of Mexico.
The RFI will provide interested parties 45 days to respond, whether with expressions of interest or information on potential environmental consequences.
An online Q&A document from BOEM says “the Gulf of Mexico is well positioned to transition to a renewable energy future… with infrastructure to support offshore wind,” along with major energy producers in the oil and gas industry that are “likely [to] lead the way … [with] plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.” It notes, as well, that Texas and Louisiana have some of the highest wind capacity in the US, and that the Gulf Coast States combined comprise 32% of the shallow-water offshore wind potential in the country.