The Obama administration has set the first oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico since last year’s massive BP oil spill, the U.S. Department of the Interior said Friday via the News Service of Florida. The sale is scheduled for Dec. 14 in New Orleans, and will include all unleased areas in the Western Gulf Planning Area, which is near the Texas coast, a statement from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. “This sale is an important step toward a secure energy future that includes safe, environmentally-sound development of our domestic energy resources,” Salazar said in the statement. “Since Deepwater Horizon, we have strengthened oversight at every stage of the oil and gas development process, including deepwater drilling safety, subsea blowout containment, and spill response capability. Exploration and development of our Western Gulf’s vital energy resources will continue to help power our nation and drive our economy.” The proposed lease sale covers about 20.6 million acres, located from 9 to about 250 miles offshore, in water depths ranging from 16 to more than 10,975 feet. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement estimates that the proposed lease sale could result in the production of 222 to 423 million barrels of oil and 1.49 to 2.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.