HOUSTON Aug 28 ConocoPhillips submitted
the highest bid on a single tract on Wednesday for drilling
rights in the western Gulf of Mexico lease sale, which attracted
the second-lowest number of bids since 1983, regulators said.
The Houston-based global exploration and production company,
which operates a single oil and gas platform in the Gulf, paid
$30.58 million for rights to explore and drill in a tract about
200 miles south of Galveston, Texas.
Overall, 12 companies submitted 61 bids on 53 tracts
totaling $144.7 million, according to the U.S Bureau of Ocean
Energy Management, which approves leases for oil and gas
producers to operate in the Gulf. Of those bids, $102.35 million
were high bids, while $42.3 million were unsuccessful.
The tract that ConocoPhillips won with the highest bid is
nearly 60 miles northeast of Royal Dutch Shell's
Perdido platform, the newest in the Gulf, which started up about
three weeks before BP Plc's Macondo oil spill in 2010.
BP cannot obtain new federal contracts, including new leases
in the Gulf, under a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ban
issued last November. The company was not among the dozen that
submitted bids for Wednesday's sale.
Earlier this month, BP, the largest leaseholder in the Gulf
and second-biggest oil producer behind Shell, sued the U.S.
government in hopes of convincing a judge to lift the ban.
The ban does not affect BP's existing leases.
John Rodi, regional director of the Gulf of Mexico for the
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said on Wednesday that the
"relatively low" number of bidders illustrates how companies
increasingly buy fewer leases in targeted areas as technology to
gauge how much oil might be there improves.
Baird Oil and Gas Research said in a note to investors that
reduced bidding likely came after "artificially high" demand
after the BP spill, which delayed lease sales to late 2011.
ConocoPhillips submitted the top sum of high bids in
Wednesday's sale at $50.3 million, followed by Chevron Corp
at $32.8 million, Maersk with $6.8 million
and Shell with $4.2 million.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp had the most unsuccessful
bids at $18.1 million. The company submitted $1.7 million in