New Orleans: The US Department of the Interior raised $539m in lease sales for oil and gas properties in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, a relatively subdued level of interest because of the current plunging price of oil.
In bidding at the Superdome in New Orleans the department’s Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) took bids from 42 offshore companies vying for the right to explore and develop 169 tracts on the Outer Continental Shelf off Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
A total of 195 bids were submitted, the second lowest since 1983.
Areas on offer covered about 41.2 million acres located from three to 230 nautical miles offshore.
“As one the most productive basins in the world, the Gulf of Mexico continues to be the keystone of the nation’s offshore oil and gas resources,” BOEM director Abigail Ross Hopper said.
There were familiar big-name players among the winners. Shell finished up with the most bids at 17, followed by Statoil with 14, Venari with 12 and Chevron and ExxonMobil, 11 each.
Red Willow Offshore and Houston Energy combined to make the highest single bid at more than $52 million.
This is the seventh lease sale held under the Obama Administration’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017, which so far has offered more than 60 million acres for development, garnered $2.4 billion in bid revenues and awarded 877 leases.