Gulf of Mexico – Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program
The current 5 year leasing program (5YP) included the March 23rd lease sale (Lease Sale 241) in New Orleans. The detailed results of that lease sale can be seen here:
In summary: around 700,000 acres were auctioned off, a small percentage of the 43 million acres offered. The lease sale bids totaled $156, the 4th lowest since 1983.
There are two more lease sales scheduled in the Gulf of Mexico during the current 5 YP:
- Lease Sale 248 on August 24th at a location TBD in New Orleans
- Lease Sale 247 in March 2017, also in New Orleans.
Lease sale 248 will offer 23 million acres in the Western Gulf for lease – this includes ALL unleased parcels in the region.
You can read more about the lease sale here:
Public comments on Lease Sale 248 are closed.
Lease sale 247 will offer up another 47 million acres in the Central Gulf. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) recently released the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on this lease sale. It is available here:
BOEM is currently accepting comments on the DEIS until April 11, 2016.
- You can submit an online comment at this website: https://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=BOEM-2015-0141-0001
- Or mail your comment in an envelope labeled “Comments on the Draft CPA 247 Supplemental EIS” to:
Mr. Gary D. Goeke
Chief Environmental Assessment Section
Office of Environment (GM 623E)
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region
1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard
New Orleans, Louisiana 70123-239;
What is the 2017-2022 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program (aka Five Year Program)?
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) established a program in which the waters of the U.S. outer continental shelf (OCS) are leased in five year windows, known as the five-year plan. The next five-year window is set to begin in 2017. For it to start on time, the plan has to be completed by Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in 2016.
This Five Year Plan establishes the areas to be leased and the leasing schedule. This is determined by the BOEM and is influenced by public comment and consultation with the oil and gas industry. The final draft will have the schedule of lease sales for 2017-2022, however, those sales can be canceled at the discretion of the Secretary of Interior. Once a lease is sold, the company can hold it for 10 years, or much longer if they actually start producing oil or gas from their site.
What is being considered this year for the next Five Year Program?
We are currently in the drafting phase of the 5 Year Program. The proposed version of the Program from the government is not yet final. It has been released to the public for comment, which will be considered for the final proposed program expected before the end of 2016. If an area does not appear for consideration in this draft, however, it cannot be added into the final proposed program. For example, both the Atlantic OCS and Pacific OCS are not in this draft, so they will not be considered for the final.
The areas being considered for the upcoming Five Year Program include:
- Arctic Ocean – about 90% of available area in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas is being considered. Cook Inlet in the southern part of Alaska is also being considered.
- Gulf of Mexico – the western and central areas; the eastern gulf is under Congressional moratorium until 2022
(Image provided by the BOEM at www.boemoceaninfo.com)
The President has the authority to withdraw any area from the five year plan, and local public opposition to drilling has been critical to past decisions about offshore drilling.
What areas of the Gulf will be considered for oil and gas leases?
We don’t know that yet. The proposal has left that an open question; they will decide to either keep areas out of the plan altogether or include specific areas based partly on input from the public. For right now the plan includes ten lease sales for the Gulf.
How can local residents share their opinions or concerns about the Five Year Program?
There are two ways that residents can directly communicate their opinions about the Five Year Program to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
The first is by submitting an official comment. You can do this by:
- Submitting an online comment at this website: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=BOEM-2016-0003-0001
- Mailing your comment to:
Ms. Kelly Hammerle
Five-Year Program Manager, BOEM
45600 Woodland Road, VAM–LD
Sterling, Virginia, 20166
If you use one of these methods, BOEM requests that you include your full name and address.
National NGOs are working to collect 1 million public comments from their membership – the million comments include a call for no new leases in the Arctic as well as the Gulf.
The second is by attending one of the public hearings in the region that will be potentially affected by oil and gas development. If it is at all possible for you to attend a hearing, this is a very effective way for local residents to make sure their opinions are heard. Here are details for the two hearings in the Gulf region*:
New Orleans, LA
April 18, 2016 2-6pm CT
2150 Veterans Blvd.