The U.S. Department of the Interior has completed plans to auction off oil and gas drilling leases for as much as 38 million acres in the Central Gulf of Mexico next month, giving oil companies a chance to expand their operations in the booming offshore oil region.
The lease sale planned for March 20 in New Orleans will offer all unleased areas in the Central Gulf of Mexico Planning Area — offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, which the department said could lead to the production of as much as nearly a billion barrels of oil and nearly 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This is great news for oil and gas workers, creating thousands of oil and gas jobs in the area.
The Central Gulf was the site of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout. Drilling activity has rebounded, and companies have indicated they expect the boom to continue in deepwater areas, where exploration and production companies are snapping up newly built rigs capable of drilling to greater depths. This in turn will create a need for more oil and gas workers.
The upcoming sale includes shallow water acreage as close as three miles from the coast as well as tracts as far as 230 miles offshore in waters more than 11,000 feet deep.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s five year plan calls for one more Gulf of Mexico lease sale to be held this year in the Western Gulf. There are four more Central Gulf sales planned through 2017, as well as several in other areas of the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska.