Sunday, August 21, 2011
On Friday, the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) announced that on December 14, 2011, in New Orleans, BOEMRE will auction off oil and gas leases covering about 20.6 million acres ("3,900 unleased blocks") in the Gulf of Mexico. BOEMRE will increase the minimum bid amount from $37.50 to $100 per acre for leases at depths of 1,312 feet and greater; the minimum bid price at "shallower depths" will remain at $25 per acre, and the leases will cover depths ranging from "16 to more than 10,975 feet." (BP drilled its ill-fated Macondo well at an approximate 5,000-foot depth, for perspective.)
This announcement follows a BOEMRE decision earlier in August to conditionally approve Shell Offshore, Inc.'s Revised Exploration Plan for Beaufort Sea drilling near Alaska. With its conditional approval on August 4, BOEMRE also released its Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for the project.