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Kerr-McGee Leads Gulf Lease Sale

Kerr-McGee Leads Gulf Lease Sale

A federal offshore natural gas and oil lease sale --- the fifth largest in 10 years --- was completed last month for blocks in the western Gulf of Mexico, with $153.6 million in high bids. Houston-based Kerr-McGee Oil & Gas Corp. and its partners were the highest bidders on 22 blocks worth $16.3 million.

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS), which held the sale in New Orleans, 266 total bids were received totaling $167.3 million. The 60 participating companies bid on 226 tracts in the western Gulf, offshore Texas and in deeper waters offshore Louisiana. Each tract is about nine square miles.

"This was a moderately strong sale," said Chris Oynes, regional director of the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf. "The $153.6 million in high bids was also 62% higher than the comparable sale last year."

MMS said that 97 tracts that got bids are in water depths of 200 meters or more. The highest bid was on a tract in Garden Banks Block 624 submitted by Houston-based Kerr-McGee Oil & Gas corp. and CXY Energy Offshore Inc. for $10.5 million.

"The sale was dominated by independent companies with Union Oil of California, Kerr-McGee Amerada Hess and CXY Energy posting $63 million of the $153.6 million in high bids," Oynes said.

The highest bid on each tract will go through an evaluation process to ensure a fair market value, he said, and are subject to final approval by MMS.

"These blocks are located in proven, high-potential trends near our recent discoveries in Nansen, Boomvang and Gunnison fields and will add value to these core areas in the deepwater Gulf," said Luke R. Corbett, Kerr-McGee CEO. "The award of these leases will further enhance our ability to continually high grade our drilling activity."

With final approval, Kerr-McGee will operate 16 of the 22 blocks, and hold a 50% working interest. With the new blocks, the Houston company would hold interests in about 540 blocks in the Gulf, with more than 300 in deep water.

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