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U.S. Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Lease Sale Attracts USD 1.7 bln in High Bids

Yesterday, the Department of the Interior took the latest step as part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, holding a 39 million acre lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Central Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale attracted $1,704,500,995 in high bids for tracts on the U.S. outer continental shelf offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. A total of 56 offshore energy companies submitted 593 bids on 454 tracts covering more than 2,402,918 acres. The sum of all bids received totaled $2,602,563,726.

The lease sale builds on a series of actions taken by the Obama administration, including additional lease sales for both onshore and offshore areas for oil and gas development, to meet the President’s direction to continue to expand safe and responsible production of America’s important domestic resources.

“This sale, part of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, is good news for American jobs, good news for the Gulf economy, and will bring additional domestic resources to market,” said Salazar, who opened the sale. “When it comes to domestic production, the President has made clear he is committed to expanding oil and natural gas production safely and responsibly, and today’s sale is just the latest example of his administration delivering on that commitment. The numbers speak for themselves: every year the President has been in office, domestic oil and gas production has increased, foreign imports of oil have decreased, and we are currently producing more oil than any time in the past eight years.”

The Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 216/222, conducted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), offered more than 39 million acres for oil and gas development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The acreage included 7,434 tracts from three to more than 230 miles off the coast, in depths ranging from 10 to more than 11,200 feet (3 to 3,400 meters). BOEM estimates the economically recoverable hydrocarbons that could be produced as a result of the acreage offered ranges from 0.8 to 1.6 billion barrels of oil and 3.3 to 6.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The sale builds on the successful Western Gulf of Mexico lease sale held by BOEM in December 2011 that made available more than 21 million acres – equal to an area the size of South Carolina – and attracted more than $337 million in high bids and included 20 companies submitting 241 bids on 191 tracts comprising over a million acres offshore Texas. In 2010, DOI offered nearly 37 million offshore acres to industry for oil and gas leasing.

“Before moving forward with Sale 216/222, we conducted a rigorous analysis of the environmental effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Central Gulf of Mexico,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “We have also continued a number of lease terms designed to ensure fair return to the American people and provide innovative incentives to promote diligent development of our nation’s offshore oil and gas resources.”

Yesterday’s highest bid on a tract was $157,111,000 submitted by Statoil Gulf of Mexico LLC for Mississippi Canyon, Block 718. Shell submitted the highest total amount in bonus bids, $406,594,560 on 24 tracts.

Lease terms for both sales included escalating rental rates to encourage faster exploration and development of leases as well as shorter lease terms for shallower water in order to encourage timely development. BOEM has increased its minimum bid requirement in deepwater to $100 per acre, up from $37.50 in previous Central lease sales. Rigorous historical analysis showed that leases that received high bids of less than $100 per acre have experienced virtually no exploration and development activities.

Lessees will have to comply with a series of important environmental stipulations, including requirements to protect biologically sensitive features, as well as marine mammals and sea turtles, and employ trained observers to ensure compliance and restrict operations when conditions warrant. These terms will help ensure an appropriate balance of responsible resource development with protection of the human, marine and coastal environments.

Each high bid on a tract will now go through a strict evaluation process within BOEM to ensure the public receives fair market value before a lease is awarded. This is the final Gulf Lease Sale scheduled in the current Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program: 2007-2012.

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Repsol Sinopec Makes High-Impact Discovery Off Brazil

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Statoil together with operator Repsol Sinopec and partner Petrobras has confirmed a high-impact discovery (*) in the Pão de Açúcar prospect offshore Brazil.

The partnership announced today that it has made a high impact discovery in the Pão de Açúcar prospect located in the BM-C-33 block in the Campos Basin.  The well, drilled by the Stena DrillMAX drillship, is located some 195 kilometres offshore Rio de Janeiro State in 2,800 meters of water.

The Pão de Açúcar well encountered two pre-salt accumulations comprising a hydrocarbon column of 480 meters with a total pay of around 350 meters. A test performed in a partial section of the pay zone flowed 5,000 barrels per day of light oil and 28.5 million cubic feet per day of gas. This was a choked Drill Stem Test (DST) with very limited drawdown. The Pão de Açúcar discovery is the third find made in the BM-C-33 block after Seat and Gávea and confirms the area’s high potential.

“The development potential of the Pão and Gávea discoveries will now be evaluated by the partnership. This discovery increases our understanding of the pre-salt potential in the Campos Basin and improves our confidence in the recently acquired acreage position in the pre-salt Kwanza basin of Angola,” says executive vice president for Exploration in Statoil, Tim Dodson.

“Statoil’s exploration strategy focuses on high impact opportunities and the deepening of core areas. The Pão de Açúcar success shows that we are delivering on our strategy,” continues Dodson.

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“Statoil has clear ambitions to grow in Brazil through new exploration opportunities. The Pão discovery will become an important building block in our growth ambitions,” says Kjetil Hove, country president for Statoil in Brazil.

Repsol Sinopec is operator of the exploration consortium with a 35% stake. Partners Statoil and Petrobras hold respective 35% and 30% shares.

Statoil is also the operator of the Peregrino field in Brazil, which came on stream in April 2011.

The Pão discovery is the sixth high impact discovery made by Statoil in the last 12 months. The other discoveries are Skrugard and Havis in the Barents Sea, Johan Sverdrup (former Aldous/Avaldsnes) in the North Sea, Peregrino South in Brazil and Zafarani in Tanzania.

(*) ”High-impact well” =  a total of more than 250 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe), or 100 million boe net to Statoil.

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