MMS sets controversial eastern gulf lease Sale 181 for Dec. 5

The US Minerals Management Service said Thursday it plans to hold offshore lease Sale 181, offering tracts in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, on Dec. 5 in New Orleans. Interior Sec. Gale Norton recently deleted 75% of the tracts that MMS had planned to offer.


HOUSTON, July 12 -- The US Minerals Management Service said Thursday it plans to hold offshore Lease Sale 181, offering tracts in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, on Dec. 5 in New Orleans.

The sale has been controversial because of Florida's growing opposition to drilling off its coast, although the tracts are more than 100 miles from the state's shore (OGJ Online, July 12, 1001). The US House of Representatives has voted to delay the sale but the Senate voted to hold it as scheduled.

Interior Sec. Gale Norton recently deleted 75% of the tracts that MMS had planned to offer (OGJ Online, July 2, 1001).

The sale is the 11th to offer federal leases on the Outer Continental Shelf in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. There are 23 active leases in the area.

MMS said the sale would offer 256 blocks covering 1.47 million acres. The blocks are 100 miles off Alabama and more than 285 miles from Tampa, Fl.

All tracts will be offered for 10-year terms and a 12.5% royalty. Minimum bids will be $37.50/acre and annual rentals $7.50/acre.

The agency said estimates of undiscovered economically recoverable hydrocarbons in the sale area are 1.25 tcf of gas and 185 million bbl of oil.

MMS said that in compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act, it will document the sale's consistency with state coastal management programs, and the four affected states will have up to 75 days to comment. The final sale notice will be issued in October.

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