On July 12, 2018 Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) an agency within the Department of the Interior will be holding an offshore lease sale on Wednesday, August 15, 2018 via live streaming.
The agency will be offering 14,622 unleased blocks which comprise approximately 78 million acres of federal waters for oil and gas exploration and development. The blocks are in federal waters between 3 and 231 offshore miles from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida (see map). This lease sale is a part of BOEM’s larger 2017-2022 lease sale plan.
In March, BOEM held its largest ever lease sale, and the results were not what Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke had anticipated. Over 14,000 blocks in federally owned waters were made available for oil and gas leasing but industry bid on just 148 of those blocks, or about one percent. At the end of the day, the 75 million acre lease sale attracted a little over $139 million in total bids for only 800,000 acres. The 99 percent of blocks that were unwanted and went un-leased will be re-offered in the upcoming sale.
When demand is low for these oil and gas resources, taxpayers lose out on valuable revenue. Instead of fast-tracking more leases, the DOI should be ensuring diligent development on the leases the oil and gas industry already have. Less than one third of all active offshore leases in federal waters are currently in production.
If the agency doesn’t change course, taxpayers are likely to lose out again in the August lease sale. Stay tuned as we continue to track the sale and propose much-needed reforms to the federal government’s outdated leasing practices.