The US Department of the Interior (DOI) will offer 73m acres for oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico at a lease sale set for August this year, it was announced on Monday.
Designated as Lease Sale 249, the auction will be the first of the new Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022. It will also be the first sale set under the administration of President Donald Trump.
Areas offshore Texas, Louisiana Mississippi, Alabama and Florida will be in the sale, running across the Gulf’s western, central and eastern planning areas and including all available unleased areas of federal waters there.
Earlier, newly appointed Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, had met department employees and said he would review an executive order by previous President Barack Obama ruling vast offshore areas of the Atlantic and Arctic as off limits for drilling.
Zinke also vowed a big organizational overhaul of the department and pledged there would be no sell-off of federal lands.
Last week the DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said it was moving ahead with planned Lease Sale 224, which will offer 1.09m acres offshore Alaska for oil and gas development. That auction would be the final stage of DOI’s 2012-2017 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program.