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MMS Bars Major Producers from Joint Bidding on OCS Leases

The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service (MMS) last Monday issued a list of producers that will be restricted from jointly bidding for Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and natural gas leases during the upcoming six-month period.

A notice, published in the Federal Register, identified nine groups of major U.S. and foreign producers and their affiliates that will be barred from bidding jointly on OCS leases between May 1 and Oct. 31 of this year. The producers have been placed on the list because their average daily production was more than 1.6 million bbl of crude oil, natural gas and liquefied petroleum products in the prior six-month period (Nov. 1 through April 30). The joint bidding restrictions went into effect upon publication in the Federal Register.

The first group includes ExxonMobil Corp. and affiliate ExxonMobil Exploration Co. Making up the second group is Shell Oil Co. and nine affiliates -- Shell Offshore Inc., SWEPA 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., Shell Rocky Mountain Production LLC and Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc.

The third group consists of BP America Production Co., BP Exploration & Production Inc. and BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. And the fourth group has a sole member: TOTAL E&P USA Inc.

Chevron Corp. and five affiliates -- Chevron U.S.A. Inc., Chevron Midcontinent LP, Unocal Corp., Union Oil Co. of California and Pure Partners LP -- make up the fifth group of producers that are restricted from jointly bidding with other named producers -- such as ExxonMobil and Shell.

The sixth group includes ConocoPhillips Co., ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc., ConocoPhillips Petroleum Co., Phillips Pt. Arguello Production Co., Burlington Resources Oil & Gas Co. LP, Burlington Resources Offshore Inc., The Louisiana Land and Exploration Co. and Inexeco Oil Co.

Several groups of foreign producers also are barred from joint bidding, including Italy's Eni S.p.A affiliates -- 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; Brazil's Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. and Petrobras America Inc.; and Norway's StatoilHydro ASA, Statoil Gulf of Mexico LLC, StatoilHydro USA E&P Inc. and StatoilHydro Gulf Properties Inc.

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