Gulf of Mexico oil lease sale raises $110 million

The Interior Department auctioned off the rights to drill for oil and gas in more than 430,000 acres in the Gulf of Mexico off the Texas coast Wednesday, resulting in $110 million high bids.

The auction took place in New Orleans, where 14 companies submitted high bids for 81 tracts in the western Gulf of Mexico. All of the bids must go through review by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) before the leases are awarded.

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“This sale underscores the president’s commitment to create jobs and home-grown energy through the safe and responsible exploration and development of offshore energy resources,” Mike Connor, deputy secretary of the Interior, said in a statement.

“The Gulf of Mexico has been and will continue to be a cornerstone of our domestic energy portfolio, with vital energy resources that spur economic opportunities and further reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

Interior’s records show that BP won the most tracts, with 27. This was the second lease sale by the Interior Department since the federal government agreed in March to allow BP to bid again, after having been banned for years following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The auction offered a total of 4,026 tracts covering 21.6 million acres, representing all of the unleased areas in the western Gulf. The agency has hosted six offshore oil and gas auctions during the Obama administration.

The BOEM estimated that the entire area available for leasing Wednesday could product 116 million to 200 million barrels of crude oil and 538 billion to 938 billion cubic feet of natural gas.