NEW ORLEANS, June 21 (UPI) -- More than 56 international energy companies submitted bids worth more than $2.6 billion in a lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. government said.
New Orleans hosted a lease sale for offshore tracks in the Gulf of Mexico. The sale was conducted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and included more than 39 million offshore acres for oil and natural gas development.
BOEM said 56 companies submitted 593 bids on 454 tracks, bringing the total sum of all bids to just more than $2.6 billion.
The bureau estimates the total amount of recoverable hydrocarbons in the leases could reach 1.6 billion barrels of oil and 6.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The highest bid was submitted by the regional subsidiary of Norwegian energy company Statoil. It submitted a bid of $157 million for Block 718 in the Mississippi Canyon in the Gulf of Mexico. Shell, meanwhile, submitted the highest total number of bids with 24 valued at more than $406 million.
BOEM said lessees need to comply with environmental stipulations in the gulf meant to ensure ecosystems are protected.
"We have also continued a number of lease terms designed to ensure fair return to the American people and provide innovative incentives to promote diligent development of our nation's offshore oil and gas resources," said BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau in a statement.