A lease sale for oil and gas parcels in the Gulf of Mexico’s Central Planning Area yielded almost $275 million in high bids for 163 tracts covering 913,542 acres, the U.S. Interior Department announced Wednesday.
The top bidder was Shell Offshore Inc., which submitted 20 high bids totaling $55,856,380. Statoil Gulf of Mexico LLC with 13 high bids worth $44,500,688, and Hess Corp. with 12 high bids worth $43,873,740 rounded out the top three bidders. Shell also submitted the highest bid on a single tract for Atwater Valley block 64, agreeing to pay over $24 million.
Lease Sale 247 was the final Gulf of Mexico sale conducted under the current five-year program for oil and gas leasing. The first offshore sale of the new program is set for Aug. 16 and will include all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Interior Department announced on March 6.
“Today’s strong sale reflects continued industry optimism and interest in the Gulf’s Outer Continental Shelf, a keystone of the nation’s offshore oil and gas resources and a vital part of President Trump’s plan to make the United States energy independent,” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Lease Sale 247, conducted online Wednesday morning, included all unleased and non-protected areas in the Central Planning Area. The Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) offered 9,118 unleased blocks, covering 48 million acres, located from three to 230 nautical miles offshore Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, in water depths ranging from nine to more than 11,115 feet. In total, 28 offshore energy companies submitted 189 bids worth over $315 million.
Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, released an upbeat statement following the sale.
“We are very pleased with the results of today’s Central Gulf of Mexico lease sale, which not only reflect an improving offshore oil and gas market, but also optimism for increased opportunities for offshore leasing, exploration and development under the Trump administration,” Luthi said.
Each high bid will go through a 90-day evaluation process before a lease is awarded, and lease awards will post on the BOEM website as they are completed.