In the last opportunity for oil companies to bid on federal Gulf of Mexico waters under a Trump administration, the federal government last week leased more than a half-million acres to companies for offshore oil drilling and production.
The leasing event, livestreamed from New Orleans, comes just ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s transition into office. He has promised to ban new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters as part of his clean energy plan.
The Texas Tribune reports that members of the oil industry largely saw last week’s auction as an opportunity they were unlikely to have for the next four years.
“They wanted to jump on it before the window potentially closes and there are more regulatory hurdles,” Sami Yahya, a senior energy analyst for S&P Global Platts Analytics, told the newspaper. The change in presidential administrations “is one of the top things operators have in mind.”
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said about 518,000 acres were leased during the auction for nearly $121 million in high bids, exceeding the agency’s target of $100 million.
A total of 105 bids were placed during the auction—up from March, when only 84 were placed, but down from 165 in August of 2019. Shell topped the bidding at $28 million, followed by California-based Chevron with $17 million.