The U.S. Department of the Interior on Sept. 29, 2023, announced its long-awaited Five-Year Offshore Leasing Plan as required by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (the Plan).
The Plan calls for a maximum of three offshore oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico in 2025, 2027 and 2029, with no lease sales scheduled for the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as well as Alaska. The Gulf of Mexico lease sales will be in the Gulf of Mexico Program Area, which includes the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area and the portions of the Central and Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning areas not currently under presidential withdrawals. No lease sales will be held in 2024.
In announcing the Plan, the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) stated that the Plan included the minimum number of offshore oil and gas lease sale to enable BOEM "to continue to expand its offshore wind leasing program through 2030." The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) requires the Interior Department to hold at least one offshore oil and gas sale within the year of any offshore wind lease sale. The Interior Department will hold a 60-day waiting period before formally approving the plan.
In prior plans and historically, the Interior Department offers approximately 11 lease sales in the five-year period. The trimmed-down lease sale will likely anger Republicans as well as pro-oil and gas Democrats, who will point to the need to continue or increase domestic production in a time where the domestic oil price is approaching $100 per barrel, increasing prices at the pump.