Independents pleased with Gulf of Mexico sale tracts

Independents Thursday said they were pleased with the tracts they won in the Central Gulf of Mexico lease sale the day before. Analysts said companies bid actively for both shallow water tracts with deep gas prospects and deepwater acreage.


By the OGJ Online Staff


HOUSTON, Mar. 29�Independents Thursday said they were pleased with the tracts they won in the Central Gulf of Mexico lease sale the day before.

The US Minerals Management Service said apparent high bids in the sale totaled $505.4 million. Ninety companies filed 780 bids exposing $663.4 million for 547 tracts off Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama (OGJ Online, Mar. 28).

Luke R. Corbett, Kerr-McGee chairman and CEO, said, �As the number one independent leaseholder in the gulf, we have built a solid inventory of deepwater leases in high-potential core areas.�

It was high bidder on 32 leases Wednesday, and if all are awarded, Kerr-McGee will hold interests in more than 550 leases in the gulf, with 345 of them in deepwater.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Houston, was the apparent high bidder on 23 tracts, 16 of them in deepwater.

Anadarko spokeswoman Teresa Wong said, �Subsalt is a specialty of ours, and that is why we got some of the blocks.�

Stephen Smith, analyst for Dain Rauscher Wessels in Houston, said the sale was strong compared with those of the last few years although below the record 1997 Central Gulf sale that brought $824 million in high bids.

�It does suggest the companies are financially healthy and trying to focus on deepwater. There also seems to be some companies looking on the shelf for deeper prospects,� particularly for gas prospects in shallow water, Smith said.

For instance, Chieftain International Inc. of Edmonton, Alta., and its partners submitted apparent high bids for 17 blocks, of which 14 are on the shelf and three are in deep water.

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