karte-8-957The US Department of the Interior will offer more than 40 million acres for oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf of Mexico in March lease sales.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Tommy P. Beaudreau say Lease Sale 231 in the Central Planning Area and Lease Sale 225 in the Eastern Planning Area will be held consecutively in New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 19. The sales will be the fourth and fifth offshore auctions under the Administration’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017 (Five-Year Program).

Sale 231 encompasses about 7,507 unleased blocks, covering 39.6 million acres, located from three to 230 nautical miles offshore Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, in water depths ranging from 9 ft (3 m) to more than 11,115 ft (3,400 m). BOEM estimates the proposed sale could result in the production of approximately 1 Bbbl of oil and 4 tcf of natural gas.

Sale 225 is the first of only two lease sales proposed for the Eastern Planning Area under the Five-Year Program, and it is the first sale offering acreage in that area since Sale 224 in March of 2008. The sale encompasses 134 whole or partial unleased blocks covering about 465,200 acres in the Eastern Planning Area. The blocks are at least 125 mi. (201 km) offshore in water depths ranging from 2,657 ft (810 m) to 10,213 ft (3,113 m). The area is south of eastern Alabama and western Florida. BOEM estimates the sale could result in the production of 71 MMbbl of oil and 162 bcf of natural gas.

In addition to opening bids for these two sales, BOEM will open any pending bids submitted in Western Planning Area Sale 233 for blocks located or partially located within three statute miles of the maritime and continental shelf boundary with Mexico (the Boundary Area). Any leases awarded as a result of these bids will be subject to the terms of the US-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement.