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Oil Companies Just Bought Leases For 500,000 Acres Of The Gulf

Jason Saul
Oil rigs are visible off the coast of Grand Isle, La.

A few dozen oil and gas companies bought new leases to drill in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday. Industry representatives say it’s a sign that business is good.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management oversees federal waters and holds regular sales for leases in the Gulf. Wednesday’s sale offered 79 million acres for oil and gas drilling, and 23 companies purchased 500,000 acres, totaling $121 million.

Shell Oil, British Petroleum and a Houston-based company, EnVen Energy Ventures, were the biggest buyers.

The outlook for the sale was cloudy, given uncertainty over potential policy changes under the incoming presidential administration of Joe Biden, who has emphasized his plans to address climate change and diversify energy sources.

Energy companies are increasingly committing to investing in cleaner energy. Shell recently announced it is closing a major refinery in Convent. Gov. John Bel Edwards has touted investments in wind energy.

In a statement celebrating the high number of leases sold, Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association President Tyler Gray said, “Today’s lease sale shows industry interest remains strong in the Gulf of Mexico despite the challenges of an uncertain economic environment, and this basin will continue to be an important player in providing energy for America.”

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and local listeners.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the number of acres offered for sale as the number sold. 

Tegan has reported on the coast for WWNO since 2015. In this role she has covered a wide range of issues and subjects related to coastal land loss, coastal restoration, and the culture and economy of Louisiana’s coastal zone, with a focus on solutions and the human dimensions of climate change. Her reporting has been aired nationally on Planet Money, Reveal, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, BBC, CBC and other outlets. She’s a recipient of the Pulitzer Connected Coastlines grant, CUNY Resilience Fellowship, Metcalf Fellowship, and countless national and regional awards.

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