Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 172, held Wednesday in NewOrleans, garnered nearly $171.62 million in high bids out of$199.64 million in total bids. Of 3,806 blocks offered, 207received bids. There were 272 bids with an average of 1.31 bids perblock and 67 companies participating.

Clearly, the commodity price downturn had a grip on yesterday’ssale. By comparison, the last Central Gulf sale, No. 169 held March18, 1998, netted $784.12 million in high bids. The sale received1,188 bids on 794 tracts, the third highest number of bids in thehistory of Central Gulf leasing, following 1996 and 1997.

This time around, blocks in deeper waters got most of theattention by far. In depths exceeding 800 meters, 89 blocksreceived a total of $130.84 million in high bids. In depths of 200meters or less, 105 blocks received high bids totaling $32.8million.

Companies submitting the greatest number of high bids were SonatExploration GOM, 22; Vastar Resources, 18; Kerr-McGee Oil &Gas, 17; BHP Petroleum, 13; Murphy Exploration and Production, 13;Spinnaker Exploration, 13; Samedan Oil, 13; CNG Producing, 9;Amerada Hess, 9; and Callon Petroleum Operating, 9.

The largest high bid was for $16.58 million from Marathon Oiland Kerr-McGee; followed by $13.01 million from Elf Exploration andSpinnaker.

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