Biden administration sells oil and gas concessions in Gulf of Mexico: NPR

A map highlights areas where thousands of blocks of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico were offered at an oil and gas auction on Wednesday.

Office of Ocean Energy Management

hide caption

toggle caption

Office of Ocean Energy Management

Biden administration sells oil and gas concessions in Gulf of Mexico: NPR

A map highlights areas where thousands of blocks of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico were offered at an oil and gas auction on Wednesday.

Office of Ocean Energy Management

Fossil energy companies seeking to extract oil and natural gas from U.S. waters in the Gulf of Mexico got a boost on Wednesday as they gained access to 1.6 million acres of proposed waters at auction.

It was just a fraction of the roughly 73.3 million acres of federal waters that the Interior Department’s Office of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has opened up for auction. Officials spent more than an hour reading aloud offers from the 259 lease sale, with some 13,600 blocks of “outer continental shelf” area in the Gulf of Mexico at stake.

This is the second time this month that the Biden administration has opened federal territory to new oil drilling, after approving the vast and controversial Willow project in Alaska on March 13.

The auction of oil and gas concessions was included in a budget agreement

On the heels of the Alaska oil project, the sale of offshore concessions in the Gulf of Mexico has renewed criticism of President Biden from environmental groups who note that his 2020 campaign promises included a climate plan “banning new oil and gas licenses on public lands and waters”.

But the administration says it was forced to open the huge swath of Gulf waters to drilling due to the stipulations of the Cut Inflation Act of 2022. The budget law coalesced around an agreement that Democratic leaders reached with their conservative colleague, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the insertion of requirements for new oil and gas leases.

The law required the 259 lease sale to be held “no later than March 30, 2023,” BOEM said. He adds that sections of the Inflation Reduction Act also prohibit Interior Secretary Deb Haaland from issuing a lease for offshore wind until her agency holds an oil and gas lease sale. offshore, with at least 60 million acres offered.

The sale brought in nearly $264 million

During the sale, companies such as Chevron and Exxon Mobil led the way with dozens of offers. Many blocks only attracted single bids; offers ranged from $750 to millions of dollars.

The sale generated $263.8 million in high bids for 313 water blocks, BOEM said.

The office says it considered potential impacts on the marine, coastal and human environments.

“Leases resulting from this sale will include stipulations to mitigate potential adverse effects on protected species and avoid potential conflicts with other ocean uses in the region,” the agency said.

The Gulf auction is both lambasted and applauded

In the wake of Project Willow, the Gulf auction contradicts administration promises to fight climate change, Woody Martin of the Sierra Club’s Delta chapter in Louisiana told NPR.

“The sanction of huge fossil fuel extraction commits the United States to a long-term addiction to fossil fuels and continues the current trajectory of rising carbon emissions that available science suggests will lead to disastrous consequences and enormous costs to the United States and global economies,” Martin said. .

The American Petroleum Institute (API) applauded the sale, which it called “a belated but positive step toward a more energy-secure future.”

Adding that “it shouldn’t take an act of Congress to get us to this point,” API said energy companies need more certainty to meet growing energy needs.

The Oceana Group strongly criticized the sale, but noted that Biden still has important decisions to make that will guide US energy policy.

“Dirty energy expansion will make the climate crisis worse and new leases for offshore oil and gas drilling must end,” said Oceana campaign manager Diane Hoskins. “President Biden may claim his hands were tied on this sale because of the IRA mandate, but he still has the option of delivering on his promise to end the new oil and gas lease in his five-year plan. “

The Home Office is working on a new offshore leasing plan

The administration plans to put in place a new offshore oil and gas leasing scheme by the end of this year. Haaland said on Tuesday that the next five-year offshore leasing sales plan is expected to come into effect by the end of 2023.

“We expect the final plan to be released in September and after the required review period, it will go into effect in December,” Haaland said during a congressional budget hearing.

The plan is required by law; the oil industry pushed the administration to work on it faster.

Rep. Jake Ellzey, a Republican from Texas, asked Haaland about rumors the plan may not include sales. Haaland said she couldn’t decide that until the planning process is underway.


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.


Passionate troublemaker. Amateur gamer. Lifelong alcohol specialist. Social media nerd. Thinker
Back to top button