On completion of an extensive bid evaluation process, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) said it has accepted high bids valued at $342,027,467 for 403 tracts offered in Oil and Gas Lease Sale 194 and awarded leases to the successful high bidders. Fifty-seven percent of the tracts receiving bids were in shallow waters of less than 200 meters.

Lease Sale 194, held March 16, 2005, attracted 80 companies submitting 651 bids on 428 tracts totaling $540,254,193. Of the 428 tracts receiving $353,961,798 in high bids, MMS rejected 19 high bids totaling $11,931,635 as insufficient for fair market value. The agency accepted the high bids on 409 tracts for an amount of $342,030,163.

The highest bid accepted on a tract was $21,157,755 by Dominion Exploration & Production Inc. and Stone Energy Corp. for West Cameron 132, a shallow water tract that received eight bids. Dominion shared honors for the largest number of bids accepted (25) and the highest total bonus amount paid ($52,300,892). Focus Exploration LLC also had 25 bids accepted for a bonus total of $10,176,565.

Murphy Exploration & Production Co. USA had 22 bids accepted for total bonus payments of $27,685,175; LLOG Exploration Offshore Inc. also had 22 bids accepted for a bonus total of $34,859,680. And Energy Partners Ltd. won 21 bids for a total payment of $14,817,037. Spinnaker Exploration Co. LLC. racked up bonus payments of $16,145,075 with 18 winning bids.

Funds from the total high bids will be distributed to the general fund of the U. S. Treasury, shared with the affected states, and set aside for special uses that benefit all fifty states. The leases were awarded following the completion of an extensive two-phase bid evaluation process to ensure that the federal government receives a fair monetary return for the public mineral resources it makes available.

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