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Lloyds List: Statoil picks up Gulf of Mexico bids

Published: Aug 30, 2007

THE Norwegians have stormed the latest Gulf of Mexico lease sale to grab a large slice of deepwater exploration acreage, writes Martyn Wingrove.

State oil group Statoil made the highest bids of the 47 oil companies that participated in the US government’s latest exploration round, as it expands operations away from Europe.

Statoil submitted 40 bids for offshore acreage with a total value of $143m, almost three times as much as the nearest rival BP. The US Minerals Management Service, which is part of the Department of the Interior, attracted almost $290m in high bids from these 47 companies in the latest auction.

The Western Gulf of Mexico lease sale 204 attracted 358 bids on 282 tracts of offshore acreage, illustrating the hunger oil companies have for new exploration opportunities.

‘The success of this lease sale once again demonstrates industry’s commitment and interest in the Gulf,’ said MMS director Randall Luthi.

Statoil submitted 36 high bids with a value of $138.9m for blocks in the highly attractive deepwater areas of the western Gulf of Mexico.

This included high bids for 20 leases in the Alaminos Canyon area and 16 in the Keathley Canyon region, where other oil companies have discovered large oil and gas fields. ‘These deepwater leases are promising acreage that we look forward to develop in the years to come,’ said Statoil’s US senior vice-president Oivind Reinertsen. ‘They will contribute to securing our long-term commitment in the area.’

UK oil major BP was the most active in sale 204, submitting 91 high bids with a combined value of $31m.

Brazilian state firm Petrobras raised its acreage position in the deepwaters by submitting 34 high bids with a value of $29.3m. Two other US firms were part of the top five bidders in the lease sale.

Devon Energy had 26 high bids worth $20m and ConocoPhillips put in 24 bids valued at $12.3m. But it seems Shell lost out on some of its 11 bids, despite promising to pay $23.3m.

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