WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Washington said there may be as much as 200 million barrels of oil and 938 billion cubic feet of natural gas available in an upcoming Gulf of Mexico auction.
The U.S. Department of Interior said more than 20 million acres will be put on the auction block next month in the western Gulf of Mexico. The auction, scheduled for Nov. 28, will be the first under an Outer Continental Shelf lease program for 2012-17.
U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the lease would be a boost to the national economy and move the country closer to energy independence.
"Exploration and development of our Western Gulf's vital energy resources will continue to help power our nation and drive our economy," he said in a statement.
The sale includes 3,873 blocks in shallow to ultra-deep waters in the western Gulf of Mexico. The Energy Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimated the lease area could lead to the production of 116 million-200 million barrels of oil and 538 billion-938 billion cubic feet of natural gas.