The U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management had lease sale 229 in New Orleans, putting more than 20 million acres offshore on the auction block. The department said it attracted more than $133 million in bids.
The highest bid, $17.2 million, was submitted by Chevron.
BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau said the sale was a good start to President Barack Obama's energy agenda.
"This is the first sale under the president's five-year program, in which we are making available all of the offshore areas with the highest conventional resource potential for exploration and development," Beaudreau said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the lease sale did little to ensure U.S. energy security. Obama's five year plan, he said, is a "no-new-jobs, no-new-energy plan that places 85 percent of America's offshore under lock and key."
A December 2011 lease offered more acreage, though it was the first since Washington lifted a moratorium on deep water exploration after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.
The BOEM estimated the lease could eventually result in the production of, on average, 150 million barrels of oil and 730 billion cubic feet of natural gas.