Another big oil lease sale set for August

Daily Comet | Keith Magill | July 15, 2018

The Trump administration says it will again conduct the largest oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history in August, opening about 78 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to drilling.

It remains uncertain whether the lease sale will attract any more interest than the previous two, which attracted bids on 1 percent or less of the tracts offered.

Aug. 15′s sale in New Orleans, the third under a five-year plan initially approved by the Obama administration, will seek bids in federal waters off all five Gulf States.

Administration officials say they are working to deliver on President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to make the U.S. an energy leader.

“Responsibly developing our offshore energy resources is a major pillar of this administration’s energy strategy,” Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in announcing the sale last week. “We look forward to this important sale, as the Gulf of Mexico continues to be the crown jewel of the Outer Continental Shelf. A strong offshore energy program supports tens of thousands of well-paying jobs and provides the affordable and reliable energy Americans need to heat homes, fuel our cars, and power our economy.”

The sale comes as Houma-Thibodaux’s offshore oil-based economy struggles amid a bust that has entered its fourth year. The area has lost more than 16,000 jobs — one of every six — amid a global crude glut that caused oil prices to plummet to less than half their mid-2014 high of about $115 a barrel.

The U.S. industry has rebounded, but job growth has been limited mostly to inland shale fields, where drillers have been able to break even at about half the $60-a-barrel prices most deepwater operations required.

Oil prices have also rebounded, ranging from $70 to $75 a barrel over the past several weeks.

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