By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, announced that he supports a decision by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke that the department is proposing the largest oil and gas lease sale ever held in the United States.
The lease sale is an incredible 76,967,935 acres in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The proposed region-wide lease sale, offering an area about the size of New Mexico, is scheduled for March 2018 and includes all available unleased areas on the Gulf’s Outer Continental Shelf, surpassing last year’s region-wide lease sale by about one million acres.
“I applaud Secretary Zinke and the Department of Interior for their efforts to spur energy production and support communities along the Gulf Coast,” Byrne said in a statement. “Revenue from these leases will be a huge boost for Gulf states, like Alabama, and will help us continue conservation and preservation of our treasured coastal areas. Through developments like this, we can ensure American energy dominance and make life better for Gulf Coast families.”
“In today’s low-price energy environment, providing the offshore industry access to the maximum amount of opportunities possible is part of our strategy to spur local and regional economic dynamism and job creation and a pillar of President Trump’s plan to make the United States energy dominant,” Zinke said. “And the economic terms proposed for this sale include a range of incentives to encourage diligent development and ensure a fair return to taxpayers.”
Proposed Lease Sale 250 will be live streamed from New Orleans. It will be the second offshore sale under the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022. Lease Sale 249, held in New Orleans last August, received $121 million in high bids. In addition to the high bids and rental payments, the department will receive royalty payments on any future production from these leases. Outer Continental Shelf lease revenues are directed to the U.S. Treasury, the Gulf Coast states – including Alabama – the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Historic Preservation Fund.
The estimated amount of resources projected to be developed as a result of the proposed region-wide lease sale ranges from 0.21 to 1.12 billion barrels of oil and from 0.55 to 4.42 trillion cubic feet of gas.
The proposed lease sale 250 includes 14,375 unleased blocks, located from 3 to 230 miles offshore, in the Gulf’s Western, Central and Eastern planning areas in water depths ranging from 9 to more than 11,115 feet – three to 3,400 meters. Excluded from the lease sale are blocks subject to the Congressional moratorium, established by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimates that the OCS contains about 90 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable gas. The Gulf of Mexico OCS, covering about 160 million acres, has technically recoverable resources of over 48 billion barrels of oil and 141 trillion cubic feet of gas.
Using new technologies to reach previously unrecoverable oil and natural gas, the United States is believed to possess enough coal, oil and natural gas reserves for energy independence for decades to come. Some environmentalists are concerned that the potential exists for another accident like the ‘Deepwater Horizon’ explosion and oil spill that the gulf coast is still cleaning up from.