ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil Big Spenders In Gulf Oil Lease Sale

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Drilling Rigs in the Gulf
Unused oil rigs sit in the Gulf of Mexico near Port Fourchon, Louisiana in this file photo.

ConocoPhillips stole the show at Wednesday's Gulf of Mexico Lease sale with the largest bid an oil company has ever made for a single tract of Gulf real estate.

The U.S. supermajor blew its competition out of the water by bidding $103.2 million for plot 95 in the Keathley Canyon in deep sections of the Gulf. The second highest bid for that specific tract came from Union Oil Company of California, a subsidiary of Chevron Corp., which bid $78 million. Five other companies, including Shell and BP also made bids on that tract.

Before this, the single largest bid for a Gulf tract was $93.8 million dollars, back in December of 1978, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which governs the leasing of offshore oil and natural gas tracts.

In all, 20 companies made bids on 191 tracts of the western Gulf, generating $712.7 million dollars in bids. The highest total bids for any specific plot totaled $337.6 million.

Our participation in the lease sale demonstrates our belief that exploration plays a key role in enabling ConocoPhillips to enhance its asset portfolio and work toward achieving long-term organic growth, said a company spokeswoman.

Out of the 191 tracts bid on, ConocoPhillips bid and attained lease agreements for 75 tracts.

Following close behind was ExxonMobil, who was the highest bidder for 50 tracts of the western Gulf Coast.

Today we committed $63.3 million in bonus payments to the U.S. Government for the rights to explore these blocks, said Patrick McGinn a company spokesman. 

Wednesday's Gulf lease sale was the first since 2009 and the first since the BP spill of 2010, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called the lease sale a milestone for the oil industry's Gulf recovery.

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