NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Oil companies have offered $274.8 million for this year's central Gulf of Mexico oil leases, more than last year but only about half the amount bid in 2015.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said Wednesday that 28 companies bid on 163 tracts off Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Last year, 26 companies made $156 million in high bids on 128 tracts in the central gulf. Wednesday's high bids totaled about 51 percent of the $539.8 million in high bids offered by 35 companies for 169 blocks in that area in March 2015.
"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," Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a news release.
BOEM estimates the lease sale could result in the production of 460 to 890 million barrels of oil, and 1.9 trillion cubic feet to 3.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Starting in August, lease sales will be gulf-wide.
Offshore production from federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico account for about 17 percent of U.S. cruide oil production and about 5 percent of natural gas production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.