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Statoil Leads Companies in Gulf Lease Sales of $1.2 Billion

March 20 (Bloomberg) -- A federal sale of oil-drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico drew more than $1.2 billion in high bids today, making it one of the top 10 sales of its kind in the past four decades.

A venture of Statoil ASA, the biggest Norwegian energy company, and a Samson Offshore LLC held the top bid among 407 submitted on 320 separate tracts, according to the U.S. Department of Interior’s offshore leasing bureau. The venture bid $81.8 million for a single lease.

“This sale serves as a reminder that the Gulf of Mexico will continue to play a key role” in U.S. oil production, Tommy Beaudreau, the head of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said on a conference call with reporters.

BOEM estimated that the 39 million acres available for sale could result in the production of as many as 890 million barrels of oil and 3.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest U.S. oil company, had high bids valued at $220.3 million, the most of any company, according to the agency. Exxon made offers on eight blocks. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, submitted the 38 high bids, valued at $139.8 million, the agency said.

The agency must now review the bids before declaring the final winner for each block. A total of 52 offshore energy companies submitted bids, Interior said in a statement.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net

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