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In Western GOM, MMS Awards 361 Leases Worth $331.95M

In what may be the final lease sale to explore for oil and natural gas off Louisiana's coast -- at least until a complete environmental review of the state's coastal region has been completed -- the Minerals Management Service (MMS) on Monday awarded 371 leases to successful high bidders in the Western Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Lease Sale 200. Total bids were valued at more than $331.95 million.

A total of 381 tracts in the western GOM received bids in the lease sale, which the MMS had described as the best in almost 10 years (see Daily GPI, Aug. 18). Total bidding was nearly 38% higher than in 2005. Sixty-two companies submitted 561 bids on 381 tracts for a total of $340.936 million. Using the two-phase bid evaluation process, MMS rejected high bids totaling $8.98 million on 10 tracts as insufficient for fair market value.

Three Keathley Canyon tracts in the deepwater GOM attracted the highest bids. BP Exploration & Production Inc. had the highest bid accepted, $21,011,812 on Keathley Canyon Block 58. The second and third highest accepted bids were by Petrobras America Inc. Its bid of $12,800,111 was accepted for Keathley Canyon Block 59, and another for $10,800,111 was accepted for Keathley Canyon Block 147.

The Argentina-based Petrobras America had the most accepted bids, with 34, and it had the most high bids in the auction, spending a total of $45,483,774. The four other companies with the most accepted bids were Hess Corp., 30 bids, $16,804,661; BP Exploration, 29 bids, $35,696,172; Shell Offshore Inc., 25 bids, $31,824,425; and Kerr-McGee Oil & Gas Corp., 25 bids, $15,390,478.

Other notable bidders were Cobalt International Energy LP, which submitted 24 winning high bids that totaled $33,125,180, and Chevron U.S.A. Inc., which submitted 18 winning bids totaling $25,804,466.

The Department of the Interior, which oversees the MMS, agreed last month to delay future lease sales off the Louisiana coast until a complete environmental review of the state's coastal region is completed (see Daily GPI, Oct. 25). The review will take into account the impact on Louisiana's wetlands and infrastructure by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The agreement resolved a lawsuit by the state of Louisiana in July (see Daily GPI, July 31).

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