Gulf lease sale draws $275 million in winning bids

Royal Dutch Shell’s Ursa platform in the Kaikias oilfield in deepwater Gulf of Mexico. (Photo: Courtesy of Shell)

A federal offshore lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday drew $275 million in high bids, exceeding last year’s totals as higher oil and gas prices continue to hopes of a rebound.

“Today’s strong sale reflects continued industry optimism and interest in the Gulf’s Outer Continental Shelf, a keystone of the Nation’s offshore oil and gas resources and a vital part of President Trump’s plan to make the United States energy independent,” U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement.

The sale was the first since President Donald Trump took office in January and made available all open leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Across three separate auctions last year, Gulf lease sales drew less than $175 million in high bids.

Still, Wednesday’s tally was a long ways from the boom times of 2014 when crude was trading for more than $100 a barrel. That year federal offshore auctions generated more than $960 million in winning bids.