oil and gas prices, growing confidence in the Gulf of Mexico deep
shelf gas play and continuing successes in deepwater were the key
drivers behind the March Central Gulf lease sale, the busiest lease
sale in six years.
competition from 83 companies garnered 829 bids on 557 tracts for
a total of $368,763,482 in high bids, according to the Minerals
that this was the highest number of bids received in a Central sale
in the past six years is a clear indication of industry's continued
confidence in the Gulf as a source of energy for the nation," said
MMS director Johnnie Burton.
interest in the deepwater continues — in fact, a large number of
tracts receiving bids were in ultra-deepwater.
this year the MMS indicated that a record number of drilling rigs
were working in the ultra-deepwater Gulf. In early March, 12 rigs
were drilling in 5,000 feet of water or greater.
activity in ultra-deepwater is translating to new discoveries. Five
discoveries were announced in 5,000 feet of water or greater in
2001, three in 2002 and six last year.
drew 60 percent of the bids.
bid of over $35 million was submitted by Amerada Hess Corp. for
the deepwater Green Canyon 468 block. The company, which outbid
four other firms, said the block was among the sale's most popular
and is located in the prolific deepwater Miocene trend.
was high bidder on 17 deepwater leases and operator on 14 of that
total. The company submitted the highest total amount of high bids
— over $40.7 million for 17 blocks.
Gulf of Mexico is a key focus area for Amerada Hess," said Bob Strode,
senior vice president of exploration. "The new acreage … provides
exciting additional opportunities for our company."
highest bid also was for deepwater acreage: A group including Nexen
Petroleum Offshore USA, Anadarko Petroleum, BHP Billiton Petroleum
and Union Oil Company of California bid over $31 million for Green
Canyon block 512.
highest bid was for Walker Ridge 969 in ultra deepwater by EnCana
Gulf of Mexico LLC. Two additional top ten bids, including one for
Ewing Bank 964 by relative newcomer to the Gulf, Tana Exploration
Co. LLC, were for deepwater blocks.