BP Skips Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale

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The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) received bids on 1.7 million acres in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico at today’s auction, but none of the bids came from BP plc (NYSE: BP). According to the BOEM, 47 companies bid on the more than 38 million acres available in Lease Sale 227.

BP is barred from entering into new contracts with the federal government until the company can demonstrate to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that “the company can provide sufficient evidence to EPA demonstrating that it meets Federal business standards.” The ban was imposed last November.

By not participating in today’s auction, BP indicates that it does not believe that it can rectify its position with the EPA within the 90 days that it takes for the BOEM and the Department of the Interior to review and accept bids on new leases.

A total of 407 bids were received with most of the action on ultra-deepwater tracts more than 1,600 meters under the surface. One tract attracted six bids, the most of any tract up for lease today. Bidders included ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX), Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC), Cobalt International Energy Inc. (NYSE: CIE), and Venari Offshore Ltd.

Earlier today Anadarko and its partners Cobalt, Venari, Conoco, and Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE: MRO) announced a major discovery in the Gulf of Mexico in a location near the block that attracted six bids today.

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