"U.S. To Offer 37 Million Offshore Acres For Oil Drilling"

"The U.S. Interior Department on Thursday issued the final terms for leasing almost 37 million acres in the central Gulf of Mexico to energy companies so they can drill for oil and natural gas.

The area to be leased may hold up to 1.3 billion barrels of crude oil and 5.4 trillion cubic feet of gas, according to the department, which is also shortening the time that companies would have to develop the tracts.

Lease Sale 213 involves about 6,958 tracts spread over 36.9 million acres located 3 to 230 miles off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The blocks are in water depths from 10 feet to more than 11,200 feet.

The lease sale will include about 4.1 million acres in an area known as 181 South, off the Alabama-Florida border. Drilling off Florida in the Gulf is only allowed far from the state's shoreline."

Tom Doggett reports for Reuters February 15, 2010.

Source: Reuters, 02/15/2010