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MMS Publishes List of Restricted Joint Bidders for Lease Sale 207

Interior Department's Minerals Management Service (MMS) last Tuesday published a list of producers that will be restricted from jointly bidding with other major companies on the list in offshore oil and natural gas lease sales to be held between May 1 and Oct. 31 of this year.

The joint bidding restrictions will apply to an oil and gas lease sale (Lease Sale 207) that will be held in August in the western Gulf of Mexico offshore Texas. "Each entity within one of the following groups shall be restricted from bidding with any entity in any other of the following groups" on leases offered in Lease Sale 207, the MMS said in a notice published in the Federal Register.

The major companies identified by the MMS would make bidding noncompetitive if they were able to match up with other larger bidders, said MMS spokesman Gary Strasburg. As a result, they are barred from bidding together. The larger producers, however, can bid jointly with smaller companies on leases, he noted. The MMS publishes its list of restricted joint bidders every six months.

The MMS' latest list of restricted joint bidders is divided into eight groups. Group 1 of the restricted bidders is ExxonMobil Corp. and ExxonMobil Exploration Co.; Group 2 is Shell Oil Co., Shell Offshore Inc., SWEPI LP, Shell Frontier Oil & Gas Inc., Shell Consolidated Energy Resources Inc., Shell Land & Energy Co., Shell Onshore Ventures Inc., Shell Offshore Properties and Capital II Inc. and Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc.; and Group 3 is BP America Production Co., BP Exploration & Production Inc. and BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.

Group 4 consists of Total E&P USA Inc.; Group 5 is Chevron Corp., Chevron U.S.A. Inc., Chevron Midcontinent LP, Unocal Corp., Union Oil Co. of California and Pure Partners LP; Group 6 is ConocoPhillips Co., ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc., ConocoPhillips Petroleum Co., Phillips Point Arguello Production Co., Burlington Resources Oil & Gas Co. LP, Burlington Resources Offshore Inc., the Louisiana Land and Exploration Co. and Inexeco Oil Co.

Group 7 is Eni Petroleum Co. Inc., Eni Petroleum US LLC, Eni Oil US LLC, Eni Marketing Inc., Eni BB Petroleum Inc., Eni US Operating Co. Inc. and Eni BB Pipeline LLC; and Group 8 is Petrobras America Inc.

Lease Sale 207, which is scheduled for Aug. 20, will encompass about 3,400 unleased blocks covering approximately 18 million acres in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area. The blocks are located from nine to about 250 miles offshore in water depths of 16 feet to more than 10,978 feet. The MMS estimates that the lease sale could result in the production of 242-423 million barrels of oil and 1.64-2.64 Tcf of natural gas.

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