U.S. to Offer Oil Leases in the Gulf
By JOHN M. BRODER
Published: August 19, 2011

WASHINGTON — Making good on a promise, the Interior Department announced Friday that it had scheduled its first sale of offshore oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon disaster last year. But it is changing some of the rules to ensure that leased parcels are actually drilled and not hoarded.

President Obama’s relations with the oil industry have suffered since the BP spill, with many executives accusing him of choking off domestic petroleum supplies and suppressing job creation. But it is unclear whether the resumption of lease sales will affect the rate of oil production in the gulf or improve relations.

The department said Friday that it was more than doubling the minimum bid for the right to drill in deep water in the gulf, to $100 an acre from $37.50 an acre in the proposed sale, which is scheduled for Dec. 14. The auction encompasses more than 20 million acres of the western gulf.

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