BP Plc. (NYSE: BP) is back bidding on drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico not far from the site where its Macondo deepwater well blew out and killed 11 people and created the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and BP agreed earlier this month to lift a 16-month suspension from federal contracts that had blocked the British energy giant BP from bidding during the previous three auctions in the area.
The company joined 49 other oil and gas companies Wednesday morning in New Orleans to bid in the Department of the Interior’s high-stakes sale of 326 tracts, about 396 million acres. BP won 24 out of 31 bids for $41.6 million.
Eight of BP’s 13 bids revealed before the sale were for blocks near the site of Macondo well that exploded in April 2010, which killed 11 workers and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the ocean.
During the last central Gulf sale in March 2013, the sale’s highest bid was $81.8 million, offered by Statoil and Samson. High bids totaled $1.2 billion.
Most of the 380 bids filed before the auction were for deep-water territory, according to pre-sale figures released by the Department of Interior. In March 2013, 52 companies filed 407 bids.
"There have been some mergers so you would expect there would a reduction in the number of players in those mergers, but we have also noticed there have been some new players," John Rodi, Gulf of Mexico regional director for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said on a press call, explaining the slight decline in bidders from the two previous years. "From what I can see there is no shortage of dollars interested in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s just an expsenvice place to do business."
Other big oil and gas companies that bid included ExxonMobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), which won three leases on the U.S.-Mexico transboundary border for $21.3 million; Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX), which won a $62 million bid; and Royal Dutch Shell Plc. (NYSE: RDS.A). Winning bids totaled $850.8 million.