Results from yesterday’s Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 175were buoyed by strong commodity prices. This year’s sale activitydwarfed that of last year’s Central Sale 172 by about 60%,according to the Minerals Management Service’s Gulf of Mexicooffice. High bids received at the sale totaled nearly $300.57million compared to $171.62 million in high bids last year.

“We’re sure that the increase in prices had something to do withit,” said Caryl Fagot, assistant to the Gulf regional director.

Sale 175 garnered 469 bids on 344 blocks compared to the 272bids on 207 blocks received in sale 172. All bids combined totalednearly $454.93 million this year, more than double the $199.64million in total bids last year.

Blocks in water depths of 200 meters or less and 800 meters ormore got most of the attention. There were 202 blocks with bids indepths of 200 meters or less and 116 blocks in depths of 800 metersor more getting bids.

Mississippi Canyon blocks 508, 509 and 555 received the highestnumber of bids with each getting eight and Exxon the winner in eachcase. Exxon’s bid for Mississippi Canyon 555 was the largest bid ofthe sale at $23 million. Exxon picked up 509 for $22 million and508 for $12 million.

Big spenders in descending order based on the number of highbids submitted were Anadarko Petroleum, Vastar Resources, ChevronUSA, Spinnaker Exploration, EEX Corp., Kerr-McGee Oil & Gas,Samedan Oil, CNG Producing, Murphy Exploration & Production,and Marathon Oil. Anadarko ended up paying for 33 blocks just alittle more than Exxon paid for Mississippi Canyon 555. The companyspent $24.89 million on its 33 high bids.

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