[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 218 (Thursday, November 10, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 70156-70160]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-29151]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management


Proposed 5-Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing 
Program for 2012-2017

AGENCY: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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SUMMARY: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announces the 
availability of and requests comments on the Proposed 5-Year OCS Oil 
and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017 (``Proposed Program''). This is 
part of a multi-step process required by law before the Secretary of 
the Interior may approve a new 5-year program. BOEM is publishing a 
Notice of Availability of the 5-Year Draft Programmatic Environmental 
Impact Statement (PEIS) concurrently with this notice.

DATES: Please submit comments and information to BOEM no later than 
February 8, 2012.

Public Comment Procedure

    BOEM will accept comments in one of two formats: By mail or via our 
Internet commenting system. Please submit your comments using only one 
of these formats, and include full names and addresses. Comments 
submitted by other means may not be considered. We will not consider 
anonymous

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comments, and we will make available for inspection in their entirety 
all comments submitted by organizations and businesses or by 
individuals identifying themselves as representatives of organizations 
and businesses.
    Our practice is to make comments, including the names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review. An individual 
commenter may ask that we withhold his or her name, home address, or 
both from the public record, and we will honor such a request to the 
extent allowable by law. If you submit comments and wish us to withhold 
such information, you must so state prominently at the beginning of 
your submission.

ADDRESSES:
    By Mail--Mail comments and information to: Steven Textoris, 5-Year 
Program Manager, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (MS-4010), Room 
3120, 381 Elden Street, Herndon, Virginia 20170. Please label your 
comments and the packaging in which they are submitted as ``Comments on 
Proposed 5-Year Program for 2012-2017.'' If you submit any privileged 
or proprietary information to be treated as confidential, please mark 
the envelope, ``Contains Confidential Information.''
    By Internet--Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Under the tab ``More Search Options,'' click 
``Advanced Docket Search,'' then select ``Bureau of Ocean Energy 
Management'' from the agency drop-down menu, then click the submit 
button. In the Docket ID column, select BOEM-2011-0119 to submit public 
comments and to view related materials available for the proposed 
program. Information on using Regulations.gov, including instructions 
for accessing documents, submitting comments, and viewing the docket 
after the close of the comment period, is available through the site's 
``User Tips'' link. The BOEM will post all comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steven Textoris, 5-Year Program 
Manager, at (703) 787-1215.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is the second proposal in the usual 
statutory preparation process for a new program to succeed the current 
program, which expires on June 30, 2012. The first proposal--the Draft 
Proposed Program--was issued in January 2009, for a 60-day comment 
period that was extended by 180 days and closed on September 21, 2009.
    Section 18 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) 
specifies a multi-step process of consultation and analysis that must 
be completed before the Secretary of the Interior may approve a new 5-
year Program. The required steps following this notice include the 
development of a proposed final program to be submitted to the Congress 
and the President, with Secretarial approval of a new program no sooner 
than 60 days after such submission. Pursuant to the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), BOEM also is preparing a PEIS for the 
new 5-Year Program. The draft PEIS is being issued with this Proposed 
Program and a final PEIS will be issued with the Proposed Final 
Program.
    BOEM requests comments from states, local governments, native 
groups, Tribes, the oil and gas industry, Federal agencies, 
environmental and other interest organizations, and all other 
interested parties, including the public, to assist in the preparation 
of a 5-Year OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017.
    The Proposed Program document may be downloaded from the BOEM Web 
site at www.BOEM.gov. The document also is available as part of our 
electronic commenting system noted above. Hard copies may be obtained 
by contacting the 5-Year Program Office at (703) 787-1215.
    Along with the proposed program, three technical documents will be 
posted on  http://www.BOEM.gov for public review and comment: (1) 
Economic Analysis for the OCS 5-Year Program 2012-2017: Theory and 
Methodology (BOEM 050-2011), a paper containing a more detailed 
description of the methodology used for the Net Benefits analysis; (2) 
Energy Alternatives and the Environment, 2012-2017 (BOEM 051-2011), a 
paper expanding upon the energy alternatives likely to replace OCS oil 
and gas in the absence of a new program; and (3) the draft Revised 
Offshore Environmental Cost Model (OECM): Guide to Cost and Benefit 
Calculations, a document designed to provide decisionmakers with 
information about the relative environmental and social costs 
associated with having, or not having, an offshore leasing program 
absent a low probability, high impact event. This is relevant to 
weighing the costs and benefits of the Proposed Program. A report 
documenting the final version of the OECM will be published prior to 
the Proposed Final Program.
    The use of the acronym ``BOEM'' includes, within its meaning, 
BOEM's predecessor agencies, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, 
Regulation and Enforcement and the Minerals Management Service.

Summary of the Proposed Program

    The proposed program document analyzes the six planning areas 
proposed for 2012-2017 leasing in the Proposed Program and reflects the 
consideration of the analysis of all 12 areas in the DPP. The Proposed 
Program schedules a total of 15 OCS lease sales in six areas (three 
areas off Alaska and three areas in the Gulf of Mexico). Maps A and B 
show the areas proposed for leasing. Table A lists the location and 
timing of the proposed lease sales in areas under consideration for 
leasing.

Alaska Region

    In the Alaska Region, the program proposes one sale in the Beaufort 
Sea in 2015, excluding at least two whaling deferral areas from leasing 
consideration, as was done in the 2009 DPP. In the Chukchi Sea, the 
proposed program schedules one sale in 2016, excluding at least a 25-
mile buffer area along the coast, as presented in the 2009 DPP.
    The Cook Inlet Planning Area is included on the schedule as a 
special interest sale, which may occur as early as 2013. Before BOEM 
proceeds with the presale process, it will issue a request for interest 
and comments and will move forward if there is sufficient industry 
interest. If there is insufficient interest, a request may be issued 
again the following year, and so on through the 5-year schedule, until 
the sale is held or the schedule expires.

Gulf of Mexico Region

    In the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas, which 
remain the two areas of highest resource potential and interest, the 
Proposed Program schedules annual areawide lease sales of all unleased 
available acreage, starting in 2012 in the Western Gulf and 2013 in the 
Central Gulf. There are two lease sales scheduled in the portion of the 
Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Area that is not under congressional 
moratorium, pursuant to the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 
(GOMESA). The Proposed Program area includes the 2008 Sale 224 Area 
(mandated by GOMESA) and a sliver to the southeast of that area.

[[Page 70158]]



      Table A--Proposed Program for 2012-2017--Lease Sale Schedule
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             Sale No.                        Area                Year
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229..............................  Western Gulf of Mexico..         2012
227..............................  Central Gulf of Mexico..         2013
244..............................  Cook Inlet..............         2013
233..............................  Western Gulf of Mexico..         2013
231..............................  Central Gulf of Mexico..         2014
225..............................  Eastern Gulf of Mexico..         2014
238..............................  Western Gulf of Mexico..         2014
235..............................  Central Gulf of Mexico..         2015
242..............................  Beaufort Sea............         2015
246..............................  Western Gulf of Mexico..         2015
241..............................  Central Gulf of Mexico..         2016
226..............................  Eastern Gulf of Mexico..         2016
237..............................  Chukchi Sea.............         2016
248..............................  Western Gulf of Mexico..         2016
247..............................  Central Gulf of Mexico..         2017
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Assurance of Fair Market Value

    Section 18 of the OCSLA requires receipt of fair market value for 
OCS oil and gas leases and the rights they convey. A series of 
decisions related to the timing of a lease sale, the leasing framework, 
sale terms, and bid adequacy provide the foundation for ensuring 
receipt of fair market value. Under the Proposed Program, BOEM intends 
to use a two-phase post-sale bid evaluation process that has been in 
effect since 1983, while studying and evaluating refinements and 
alternative approaches throughout the 2012-2017 5-Year Program. The 
flexibility incorporated into the Proposed Program allows BOEM to 
evaluate alternatives with respect to delaying a sale area, choosing a 
leasing framework, and setting the fiscal terms and conditions by 
individual lease sale, based on a current assessment of market and 
resource conditions.

Information Requested

    We request all interested and affected parties to comment on the 
size, timing, and location of leasing and the procedures for assuring 
fair market value that are included in the Proposed 5-Year OCS Oil and 
Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017. Respondents who submitted 
information in response to previous requests for comments on the 
preparation of this 5-year program may wish to reference that 
information, as appropriate, rather than repeating it in their comments 
on the proposed program. We also invite comments and suggestions on how 
to proceed with the section 18 analysis for the Proposed Final Program.
    Section 18(g) of the OCSLA authorizes confidential treatment of 
privileged or proprietary information that is submitted to BOEM. In 
order to protect the confidentiality of such information, respondents 
should include it as an attachment to other comments submitted and mark 
it appropriately. On request, BOEM will treat such information as 
confidential from the time of its receipt until 5 years after approval 
of the new leasing program, subject to the standards of the Freedom of 
Information Act. BOEM will not treat as confidential any aggregate 
summaries of privileged or proprietary information, the names of 
respondents, or any comments not marked by the respondent as 
confidential.

Next Steps in the Process

    BOEM plans to issue the proposed final program and final PEIS in 
the summer of 2012. Sixty days later, the Secretary may approve the new 
5-year Program.

     Dated: November 7, 2011.
Tommy P. Beaudreau,
Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
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[FR Doc. 2011-29151 Filed 11-9-11; 8:45 am]
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