Gulf lease sale draws $949.3M in bids

NEW ORLEANS

With oil prices up $30 a barrel from last year, energy companies issued $949.3 million in winning bids Wednesday for federal offshore petroleum leases off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The Minerals Management Service said 67 companies submitted 642 bids on 468 tracts in the central Gulf of Mexico. Last year, oil was around $50 a barrel and the sale attracted 476 bids on 348 tracts. That sale garnered $703 million in winning bids. In 2008, with oil well above $100, the sale set a record $3.67 billion in high bids.

Benchmark crude for April delivery rose $1.23 cents to settle at $82.93 a barrel Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Lars Herbst, the MMS regional director for the Gulf, described the auction as “a very healthy sale,” noting that the number of energy companies participating increased to 77 from 70 last year.

At A Glance

Top 10 companies based on total of high bids submitted:

1. Anadarko E&P Co. LP, 48 for $127.6 million

2. Maersk Oil, 63 for $97.3 million

3. Shell Offshore Inc., 20 for $89.2 million

4. Chevron USA Inc., 46 for $79.5 million

5. Mariner Energy Inc., 45 for $62.8 million

6. Hess Corp., 3 for $44.6 million

7. BHP Billitron Petroleum Inc., 32 for $41.5 million

8. Nexen Petroleum Offshore USA Inc., 7 for $38.4 million

9. BP Exploration and Production Inc., 24 for $38.4 million

10. Noble Energy Inc., 16 for $37.6 million

Source: U.S. Minerals Management Service

By ALAN SAYRE – The Associated Press
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