Italian energy major Eni has been awarded 32 new exploration licenses in the US Gulf of Mexico at Lease Sales 206 and 224.

Eni noted that the Lease Sale 206 was the most competitive in the US leasing history, with more than $3.7 billion received in winning bids, and the participation of 85 companies, including all oil majors. Eni’s winning bids totaled approximately $114 million.

All the new leases are located in Eni’s core exploration areas in Gulf of Mexico (GoM), with 11 on the shelf and 21 in deepwater. Out of the 32 leases for which Eni was the highest bidder, 17 were joint bids with various partners and the remaining 15 were bid for solely by Eni, who will be operator for all of the licenses.

Eni’s increased lease sale activity in the GoM is reportedly consistent with the company’s growth strategy in the region. In the US, Eni currently owns lease interests in 408 GoM blocks, 70% of which are in deepwater, and is among the key GoM producers with a daily equity production in excess of 110,000 barrels of oil equivalent, of which 60% is operated.