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January 16, 2009 --- Vol 15, No. 06January 2009

MMS published draft 2010 to 2015 OCS oil and gas leasing program

The U.S. Minerals Management Service announced today that it has published a draft 2010 to 2015 oil and gas leasing program for the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The program period overlaps with the current 2007 to 2012 program.

“We’re basically giving the next administration a two-year head start,” said MMS Director Randall Luthi. “This is a multi-step process with a full environmental review and several opportunities for input from the states, other government agencies and interested parties, and the general public.”

DOI announced in July that it was going to develop a new five-year leasing program before the end of the current program. That announcement came in the wake of President Bush lifting an executive ban on oil and gas leasing in many areas of the continental shelf.

The new proposed program includes areas that were previously subject to a leasing moratorium. However, lease sales in those areas would not occur prior to 2012. A sale is proposed for the eastern Gulf of Mexico in 2013, but that area is still subject to congressional withdrawal and the sale would require congressional approval.

In Alaska the proposed program envisages lease sales in the Chukchi Sea in 2010 and 2014; the North Aleutian Basin in 2011 and 2014; the Cook Inlet in 2011 and 2015; and the Beaufort Sea in 2013 and 2015.

The proposed lease sale program is subject to a 60-day public comment period.

Note: See full story in the Jan. 25 issue of Petroleum News, which will be available online to subscribers noon Jan. 23 at www.petroleumnews.com

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