HOUSTON, March 19 (Reuters) - BP Plc rejoined bidders for exploration and production leases in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday after the U.S. government lifted a ban barring the company from such new federal contracts.
The Environmental Protection Agency in late 2012 barred BP from bidding on new federal contracts, citing a "lack of business integrity." The action came after the company's 2010 Macondo oil well blowout killed 11 rig workers and unleashed more than 4 million barrels of crude into the Gulf in the worst offshore oil disaster in U.S. history.
Last week the EPA lifted the ban, which barred BP from bidding on new Gulf leases as well as other contracts, after the oil major committed to a set of safety, ethical and corporate governance requirements.
BP had filed a lawsuit over the ban, saying it was being unfairly penalized.
BP submitted bids for Wednesday's sale on Tuesday, the company said.
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management began reading all the bids on Wednesday. BOEM said there were 383 bids in all from 43 companies in deep and shallow water areas in the central and western Gulf. (Reporting by Kristen Hays; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)