The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said that the Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Lease Sale 261 auction yielded $382.17m in high bids for 311 tracts spanning 1.7 million acres in the US Gulf of Mexico.

Lease Sale 261 encompassed 13,482 unleased blocks, spread over 72.7 million acres in the Gulf’s Western, Central, and Eastern Planning Areas.

The lease sale attracted participation from 26 companies, resulting in the submission of 352 bids totalling $441.9m.

In adherence to a ruling from the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, BOEM included lease blocks previously excluded due to potential impacts on the Rice’s whale population from oil and gas activities in the Gulf of Mexico.

The revenues generated from offshore oil and gas leases, comprising high bids, rental payments, and royalty payments, are allocated to the US Treasury, specific Gulf Coast states such as Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, local governments, the Historic Preservation Fund, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Lease Sale 261 was initially planned as part of the previous five-year offshore leasing programme but was canceled by the Department of the Interior in May 2022. However, the Inflation Reduction Act reinstated the sale.

In January 2023, BOEM released the final supplemental environmental impact statement for the lease sale, which assessed potential impacts on crucial environmental resources and proposed comprehensive mitigation measures for inclusion in the leasing process.

The terms of the lease sale incorporate conditions with an aim to alleviate potential adverse effects on protected species and prevent conflicts with other maritime activities.

American Petroleum Institute upstream policy vice president Holly Hopkins said: “Although today’s congressionally mandated lease sale is a positive step after multiple delays, the lack of any offshore sales in the year ahead is a prime example of the administration’s failure to implement a long-term energy strategy.

“We urge the administration to reconsider its shortsighted approach and plan today for tomorrow’s energy demand.”