BOEM Reinstates Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 257 Results

The sale had 307 valid high bids worth more than $190 million.

Lease Sale 257 attracted more than $190 million in apparent high bids from 33 participating companies.

The US Interior Department's (DOI) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has reinstated and accepted 307 highest valid bids, totaling more than $190 million from its Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 257 held in November 2021, in keeping with the mandate of the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), it said on 14 September.

A federal judge had vacated the results of the lease sale in January after a lawsuit filed by several environmental groups claimed the government failed to properly consider the climate change impacts of the auction.

The IRA mandates that the leases resulting from this sale include stipulations to protect biologically sensitive resources, mitigate potential adverse effects on protected species, and avoid potential ocean user conflicts, BOEM said.

A total of 33 companies participated in the lease sale, generating $191,688,984 in high bids for 308 tracts covering 1.7 million acres in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. One bid was rejected for not providing the public with fair market value.

High Bids

US supermajor ExxonMobil held the highest number of bids in the auction at 94 totaling $14.8 million on shallow-water acreage off the coast of Texas in Galveston and Matagorda bays, and nearthe potential industrial carbon capture and storage hub at the Houston Ship Channel that the company is developing with its partners.

Fellow supermajor Chevron was the auction’s biggest spender with more than $47 million spent securing 34 of the 35 bids it placed on acreage around its existing hubs.

The second-highest bidder in the auction was Anadarko US Offshore, a unit of Occidental Petroleum, with $39.6 million spent securing acreage surrounding its own hubs. The company did submit the two highest bids in the auction, a $10 million bid for Alaminos Canyon 259 and a $6 million bid for Green Canyon 551.

UK supermajor BP picked up 46 high bids totaling more than $28 million, while Shell picked up 20 high bids for $17.9 million.

New Plan

The DOI is currently evaluating its new 5-year Outer Continental Shelf leasing plan for offshore drilling. The previous program expired on 30 June 2022.

The proposed program includes no more than 10 potential lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and an option for one potential lease sale in the northern portion of Alaska’s Cook Inlet. No lease sales are proposed for other Alaska planning areas, nor for the Atlantic or Pacific planning areas during the 5-year period.

BOEM is accepting public comments on the proposed program through 6 October 2022.