The Trump administration is about to make history.
On Tuesday, the administration announced that it will sell leases for nearly 77 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling—the largest offering ever.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the sale, which is scheduled for March, would open an area the size of New Mexico to drilling. It will include all “available unleased areas on the Gulf’s Outer Continental Shelf.” Reports suggest that this area could hold “recoverable reserves” of upwards of 48 billion barrels of oil and 141 trillion cubic feet of gas.
This will be the second offshore sale under the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022. According to World Oil, the first sale held last year received $121 million in bids. The government receives the bid price and rental payments, plus royalties on any future production.
Upping U.S. energy production is one of Trump’s key priorities. With this in mind, the administration has moved to increase production and expand exports, and ultimately, generate jobs. “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 of the planned sale.
The sale includes the area where the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, involving BP, took place. Nevertheless, Vincent DeVito, the counselor for energy policy at the Department of the Interior, has contended that “American energy production can be competitive while remaining safe and environmentally sound.”