WASHINGTON, April 25 (UPI) -- More than 21 million acres offshore Texas will go on the auction block to energy explorers in an August sale in New Orleans, the U.S. government announced.
The U.S. Interior Department and its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said the auction would open unleased areas in the western Gulf of Mexico.
U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the Gulf of Mexico is the "cornerstone" of the U.S. energy portfolio.
More than 35 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico went on the auction block in March. The government said that acreage could generate as much as 890 million barrels of oil and as much as 3.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The August lease sale covers 21.1 million acres off the coast of Texas. BOEM estimates that acreage could give up as much as 200 million barrels of oil and 938 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
"This proposed sale is another important step to promote responsible domestic energy production through the safe, environmentally sound exploration and development of the nation's Outer Continental Shelf energy resources," BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau said.
U.S. lawmakers have pushed for more exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Atlantic Ocean. Onshore reserves in states such as Texas and North Dakota helped lead to major increases in U.S. oil production. Imports of foreign oil are at their lowest level since 1998 as a result.