Federal regulators plan March 20 to put more than 38 million acres in the central Gulf of Mexico up for bid to offshore energy producers.
The U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which regulates offshore drilling, said Thursday the New Orleans sale will include about 7,299 federally-owned drilling tracts, three to 230 miles off the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.
The tracts are in water depths of nine to more than 11,115 feet.
It's estimated the sale could lead to the production of 460 million to 890 million barrels of oil, and 1.9 trillion to 3.9 trillion cubic feet of gas.
The November lease sale, which included more than 20 million acres in the western Gulf of Mexico, generated nearly $134 million in high bids.