Lease Sale 253 shows possible signs of deepwater comeback

Our struggling, stagnant local economy got perhaps its best news in years today from industry leaders in the Gulf of Mexico’s energy sector.

Lease Sale 253 generated $159,386,761 in high bids for 151 tracts covering 835,006 acres in federal Gulf waters today. The amount of this bid sale, plus another in March total the highest since 2015 for the Gulf of Mexico.

A total of 27 companies participated in the sale with Equinor Gulf of Mexico LLC, BP Exploration and Production Inc., and BHP Billiton Petroleum (Deepwater) Inc. all winning more than 20 bids each.

Companies submitting 10 or more high bids included Chevron USA Inc. and Anadarko US Offshore LLC.

Anadarko had the highest total spent, submitting 14 high bids totaling $23,403,070. The company had three of the top 10 single highest bids in the sale.

“We are excited about the results from today’s lease sale, which show a continued upward trend for the year. The total from today’s lease sale and the March sale is the highest since 2015 for high bids,” said Andrea Travnicek, the United States Department of the Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary. “The Gulf of Mexico continues to be a critical part of our nation’s energy infrastructure strengthening our country through increased national security, job creation, and revenues for the American people.

Lease Sale 253 included 14,585 unleased blocks, located from three to 231 miles offshore.

The sale included the Gulf’s Western, Central and Eastern Planning Areas and it included waters that were as shallow as nine feet deep to as deep as 11,115 feet deep.

Mike Celata, director of BOEM’s New Orleans Office, said he’s proud to see so many companies looking to invest in Gulf energy.

“The Gulf of Mexico is the crown jewel of our nation’s energy portfolio,” said Mike Celata, director of BOEM’s New Orleans Office. “As one of the most productive basins in the world, the development of its resources are essential to the nation’s energy security.”

Revenues received from Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) leases (including high bids, rental payments and royalty payments) are directed to the U.S. Treasury, certain Gulf Coast states (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama), the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the Historic Preservation Fund.

Leases resulting from this sale will include stipulations to protect biologically sensitive resources, mitigate potential adverse effects on protected species, and avoid potential conflicts associated with oil and gas development in the region.

Locally, Port Fourchon celebrated the news of the successful Lease Sale, saying in a Facebook post that the news was great for south Louisiana.

“When your Port services more than 95 percent of all Deepwater Offshore Energy Activity in the GOM, comments such as this one bode well not only for south Louisiana, but the nation as well,” the Port said, referencing Travnicek’s above quote about it being the best lease sale since 2015.

Economic officials have long pointed to 2020 as a year for possible economic growth after a lengthy downturn.

Oil prices remain stagnant, but signs of further deepwater investment in the Gulf show that companies are willing to push past that in the future.

And that’s great news for the Houma-Thibodaux area.