The U.S. Interior Department will hold the largest lease sale in American history in the offshore Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, in a major test of the oil industry’s appetite for federal acreage being offered by the Trump administration.
The auction of more than 77 million acres (31.2 million hectares) - an area twice the size of Florida - is part of an effort by President Donald Trump's administration to ramp up U.S. fossil fuels production by lowering royalty rates, opening up more public lands, and rolling back environmental protections.
But the push comes it comes at a time U.S. crude oil and natural gas output is already smashing records thanks to improved drilling technology that has opened up cheaper onshore reservoirs, and as Brazil and Mexico compete for drillers in their own deepwater acreage.
The U.S. produces about 1.5 million barrels of oil per day from the Gulf of Mexico, about 15 percent of the national total, according to the Energy Information Administration...