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First Since Last Year's Massive Oil Spill That Devastated The Region

On December 14, the Interior Department will hold the lease sale for areas off the coast of Texas that represents a first step toward new drilling in the region under a series of beefed-up safety and environmental standards imposed by Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE).

The lease sale, which will be held in New Orleans, will offer up all unleased areas in a 20.6 million-acre block off the coast of Texas. The water depth in the lease sale area is between 16 and almost 11,000 feet. Sales in the region could produce up to 423 million barrels of oil and as much as 2.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to BOEMRE.

BOEMRE said Friday it would increase the minimum bid in those areas deeper than 1,312 feet from $37.50 per acre to $100 per acre in order to “discourage companies from purchasing leases they are unlikely to explore in the near term.“ Minimum bids for shallow-water leases will stay the same. (DOI Press Release, The Hill, 8/19/2011)