A total of $2.9b in high bids were opened recently at a sale of federal offshore oil and gas leases
in the central Gulf of Mexico
. Officials say it was the second largest such sale for central Gulf tracts.
Seventy-three companies are competing for the tracts. In all there were 1,428 bids on 723 tracts. The bids were opened by the US Minerals Management Service, which manages the leases. Many of the tracts receiving bids were in ultra-deep water, or in depths of 800 meters or greater. Development of such leases can take hundreds of millions of dollars in investments and take years to bring into production.
Also drawing continued interest were tracts of 200 meters or less on the shallow Gulf shelf. They are considered prime ground for the development of natural gas deposits deep in the earth.
The central Gulf sale has been generally held in March.
This year's sale was delayed by a dispute between Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and the federal Interior Department over the state's share of offshore royalties.
In December 2006, Congress agreed to send Louisiana about $13b expected over the first 30 years for storm protection, flood control and coastal restoration projects. [Source: http://www.kwtx.com]