ConocoPhillips Highest Bidder for U.S. Oil Leases in Gulf

ConocoPhillips (COP) was the top bidder for a lease to drill for oil in the western Gulf of Mexico in the third auction since the administration of President Barack Obama began a new offshore drilling plan last year.

Conoco offered $30 million for one block that new seismic data showed could be oil rich, according to the U.S. Interior Department. A total of 12 offshore energy companies submitted 61 bids, with the high bids totaling $102 million, primarily in deepwater zones.

“This offshore oil and gas lease sale supports continued growth in safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production,” Tommy P. Beaudreau, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said today in a statement.

Available for lease today were 3,864 tracts for new exploration, which ranged from 9 miles to more than 250 miles off the U.S. Gulf coast.

The Interior Department estimates the lease sale could result in the production of as much as 200 million barrels of oil and as much as 938 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Drajem in Washington at mdrajem@bloomberg.net

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