Buyers' market as Gulf of Mexico lease sale wraps up

The US Gulf of Mexico region wide Lease Sale 252 was held today, 20 March 2019. The sale attracted 257 bids from 30 companies, with high bids totalling US$244.3 million. An increase of about $66 million (37%) from the last region-wide lease sale in August 2018.

Commenting on the results, William Turner, senior research analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said: "We saw a modest increase in overall spend, but it was outpaced by the increase in acreage leading to lower amount per acre, furthering our hypothesis that it is a buyer’s market in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The number of companies participating has thinned out, with the only notable absence being ExxonMobil. It seems those left in the Gulf of Mexico are committed to the region and taking this opportunity to quietly strengthen their prospect inventory. 

“One of the most interesting details of the sale were unique partnerships between majors and smaller players like Kosmos with Equinor, Fieldwood with Chevron, LLOG with BP and Talos with EcoPetrol.  This demonstrates a shrinking pool of partners, but also an increased willingness of the majors to partner with these more nimble players.”

He added: “Shell had the most bids and was the highest spender but went at it alone, picking up acreage across the entire region.

"The highest bid of the round came from Equinor with $24.5 million. The block (MC 801) is next door to the W&T-operated Gladden Deep exploration prospect. It was the most competitive block in the round, receiving four bids totalling over $37 million.”

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