Federal Register Notice Outlines Next Steps in Oil and Gas Leasing in Gulf

April 1, 2024 by Dan McCue
Federal Register Notice Outlines Next Steps in Oil and Gas Leasing in Gulf
This April 10, 2011, photo shows a rig and supply vessel in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana. (Gerald Herbert/Associated Press)

NEW ORLEANS, La. — The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published a notice of “area identification” in the Federal Register for the first series of proposed sales under the new National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

Unveiled last December, the program is a byproduct of the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

The IRA prohibits BOEM from issuing a lease for offshore wind development unless the agency has offered at least 60 million acres for oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf in the previous year. 

The program has scheduled three oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico in 2025, 2027 and 2029, which agency officials say is the minimum number that will allow the Interior Department to approve enough offshore wind projects to meet the Biden administration’s goal of creating 30 GW of offshore wind in the U.S. by 2030.

The notice published in the Federal Register on Monday significantly narrows an earlier Trump administration proposal that called for 47 oil and gas lease sales off all coastal areas of the United States.

Section 18 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act authorizes the secretary of the Interior to establish a schedule of lease sales for a five-year period by balancing specific factors of continental shelf regions and selecting the size, timing and location of lease sales that best meet regional and national energy needs and considers the impact of oil and gas exploration on the marine, coastal and human environments. 

Officials stress that the Area ID is not a decision to lease and is not a prejudgment by the Interior Department on how or whether to proceed with proposed lease sales.

The Area ID merely determines which areas will receive further consideration and analyses.

A decision to lease must be preceded by several steps, including completion of environmental analyses pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act; consultation under environmental and other statutes; opportunities for federally recognized tribes, governors of affected states, local government leaders and other interested parties to provide comment; and the issuance of proposed and final notices of sale.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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  • Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
  • oil and gas leasing
  • wind energy
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