Western Gulf lease sale attracts few bidders

Written by Nick Blenkey
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BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper: Sale underscores a steady, continued interest in developing deep water federal offshore oil and gas resources

AUGUST 19, 2015 — The Department of the Interior’s Western Gulf of Mexico Lease sale drew just $22,675,212 in high bids for tracts on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf offshore Texas. Just five companies submitted 33 bids on 33 tracts, covering about 190,080 acres.

The result may have been a disappointment, but wasn’t much of a surprise given current low oil and gas prices. Still Bureau of Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper tried to find something positive to say.

“The Gulf remains a critical component of our nation’s energy portfolio and holds important energy resources that spur economic opportunities for Gulf producing states, creating jobs and home-grown energy and reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” she commented.  “While this sale reflects today’s market conditions and industry’s current development strategy, it underscores a steady, continued interest in developing deep water federal offshore oil and gas resources.”

National Ocean Industry Association President Randall Luthi  issued the following statement:

“While disappointing, the results of this lease sale are not surprising and accurately reflect the current environment of low commodity prices and increasing regulatory changes and uncertainty.  The entire oil and natural gas industry, particularly the offshore segment, is understandably being very cautious about spending money.  The companies that did participate in this sale should be appreciated for their faith in a bright energy future and in the potential of the Gulf of Mexico in spite of discouraging market and other conditions.

“Each lease purchased shows a commitment to job creation, economic growth and increased energy security. This commitment comes in spite of mixed energy messages coming out of Washington D.C.  Just this week, Shell was given its final permit to drill off Alaska, but the next day, potentially costly and devastating methane regulations were proposed and a leading presidential candidate announced her opposition to drilling in the Arctic, completely dismissing the regulatory and safety mechanisms in place.

“As other countries continue to open up their offshore oil and natural gas resources, the U.S. should truly be concentrating on a broad energy policy, firmly based upon the wise and continued development of fossil fuels and complemented by renewables. Today’s lease sale was quick, quiet and small, but it is still a step in the right direction and will create jobs, boost economic activity, and strengthen U.S. energy security. We are hopeful that policy makers in Washington will acknowledge these benefits and validate their importance to our nation’s economic and energy health by opening up new offshore areas for exploration and development.”


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