March 19, 2003

Central Gulf lease sale attracts impressive bids
The U. S. Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) in New Orleans today held a sale of offshore oil and natural gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico, attracting $315,531,229 in high bids from 74 companies.
Lease Sale 185 offered 4,460 tracts comprising of approximately 23.4 million acres offshore Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi; the MMS received 793 bids on 561 tracts. The total of all bids was $414,738,677.

Lease sales are an important indicator of future offshore industry activity.

"The results of this lease sale are impressive and reflect a strong commitment by industry to increase domestic oil and gas production during this crucial period for our Nation," said MMS Director Johnnie Burton. "Although interest in deepwater continues, two-thirds of the bids in this sale are on the continental shelf. We believe this reflects definite industry interest in deep gas in shallow waters in anticipation of potential royalty relief through MMS's Deep Gas Initiative."

The highest bid received on a block was $8,216,885, submitted by Hunt Petroleum (AEC) Inc. ­ Cheyenne International Corp., and Energy Partners, Ltd. for South Marsh Island­South Addition/109.

The high bid on a block will go through an evaluation process to ensure the public receives fair market value before a lease is awarded.

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