Posts Tagged ‘Lease Sale 257’

That would appear to be the case now that the US Court of Appeals for DC dismissed litigation challenging the sale.

Meanwhile, challenges to Cook Inlet Sale 258 (humble as it was with only one bid) and GoM Sale 259 continue. It’s a great country (if you like endless litigation)!

In addition to Lease Sale 257, the IRA also required Interior to offer three other lease sales in Alaska and the Gulf that it previously declined to hold. Lease Sale 258, in Alaska‚Äôs Cook Inlet, was held in December but received only one bid. Earthjustice is challenging that sale. Earthjustice is also challenging Lease Sale 259, in the Gulf of Mexico, which was held in March. Lease Sale 261, also in the Gulf, will be held by September of this year. 


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BOEM’s new procedures, which have been published for public comment, seem reasonable. However, it would be helpful to learn more about the testing of the new methodology. (See the quote below). Further, would the rejected Sale 257 bid have been accepted? What was the LBCI for that tract? Would any accepted Sale 257 bids have been rejected? Would the outcome of other sales have been affected?

After a 2-year comprehensive technical review of the delayed valuation methodology, BOEM intends to replace the delayed valuation methodology with a statistical lower bound confidence interval (LBCI) at a 90 percent confidence level as a decision criterion for accepting or rejecting qualified high bids on tracts offered in OCS oil and gas lease sales. Following extensive testing of the alternative approaches using both historical and current lease sale tract data and existing BOEM cash flow simulation models, BOEM determined that the LBCI approach would be the most appropriate substitute for the delayed valuation methodology. The LBCI is a statistical concept that captures the lower bound of a range of values encompassing the true unknown mean of the risked present worth of the resources at the time of the lease sale. The LBCI incorporates the uncertainty of parameters unique to the valuation of each OCS oil and gas lease sale tract. These parameters may include, but are not limited to, subsurface characterization of reservoir properties, cost and timing of the development, and projected revenues. Unlike the delayed valuation methodology, the LBCI approach would not require that BOEM estimate the time delay period between the current OCS oil and gas lease sale and the projected next lease sale. As such, BOEM finds the LBCI to be a better approach going forward.

Federal Register

Below is the flow chart for the new procedures. It’s interesting that high bids on nonviable tracts are automatically (and gratefully) accepted! ūüėČ

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BOEM published their Sale 257 Decision Matrix on Friday (2/24/2023), and my previous speculation regarding the rejected Sale 257 high bid has proven to be partially incorrect. The rejected high bid was submitted by BP and Talos and was for Green Canyon Block 777. BOEM’s analytics assigned a Mean of the Range-of-Value (MROV) of $4.4 million to that tract, which tied for the highest MROV for any tract receiving a bid. The BP/Talos bid was $1.8 million or just 40% of BOEM’s MROV. BOEM’s tract evaluation is interesting given that the other bid on this wildcat tract (by Chevron, $1.185 million) was considerably lower than the rejected BP/Talos bid.

The Sale 257 bid that I thought might have been rejected was for lease G37261. This lease was never issued per the lease inquiry data base and the final bid recap. BHP’s bid of $3.6 million for that tract (Green Canyon Block 79) was more than 5 times BOEM’s MROV of $576,000, and was accepted per the decision matrix. Why was the lease never issued?

Both Green Canyon 79 and 777 should again be for sale in legislatively mandated Sale 259, which will be held in just a few weeks on March 29, 2023, just 2 days prior to the deadline. It will be interesting to see what the bidding on those tracts looks like.

Meanwhile, Exxon and BOEM are still mum about the 94 Sale 257 oil and gas leases that Exxon acquired for carbon sequestration purposes. Note the large patches of blue just offshore Texas on the map above. These leases were all valued by BOEM at only $144,000 each, which is equivalent to the minimum bid of $25/acre. This valuation reflects the absence of perceived value for oil and gas production purposes. Exxon bid $158,400 for each tract, $27.50/acre or 10% higher than the minimum bid. Given that (1) the Notice of Sale only provided for lease acquisition for oil and gas exploration and production purposes, and (2) it was common knowledge that these tracts were acquired for carbon sequestration, should these bids have been rejected?

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On September 14, 2022, BOEM announced that 307 high bids from Lease Sale 257 in the Gulf of Mexico were accepted. BOEM also announced that one high bid was rejected for not providing the public with fair market value. BOEM has not identified the rejected bid.

Per BOEM’s Lease Area Block Online Query file, 306 Sale 257 leases were effective on Oct. 1, 2022. A comparison of these data with the sale results identified 2 Sale 257 leases that have not been awarded:

leaseblockhigh bidder(s)bidcomments
G37261GC 70BHP$3.6 millionlone bid; 7th highest
bid in sale
G37294GC 777BP (75%),
Talos (25%)
$1.8 million2 bids; next highest
$1.185 million

So one of these 2 bids was rejected and the other has lease not yet been awarded for some reason (or perhaps there has been a clerical/IT issue).

Which bid was rejected? I would guess it was the BHP bid even though that bid was the 7th highest bid in the entire sale. The fact that this bid was $2.5 to $3 million higher than the other 7 BHP bids (all of which were accepted) tells us that the company valued this tract highly. Perhaps BOEM, which has all of the geologic data, thought the value was even higher, which is why the bid may have been rejected.

There was another bidder (Chevron) for the BP/Talos tract, so the competition makes it less likely that the bid would have been rejected.

Ironically, the 94 carbon sequestration bids, which made something of a mockery of the lease sale, could not be rejected on fair market grounds. The bids exceeded the minimum required, and the tracts have little or no value from an oil and gas production standpoint. A competitive process would be require to repurpose these leases for carbon sequestration.

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Which bid was rejected? BOEM announced that 307 of the 308 high bids were accepted. One bid was rejected on fair market value grounds. The unsuccessful bid is not specified on the Sale 257 web page.

When can we expect a statement from Exxon on their intentions for the 94 blocks they acquired? Those 94 blocks (31% of the entire sale) are the elephant in the room, yet we have heard nothing from the company. Given Exxon’s apparent interest in using these leases for CCS purposes, and the tax credits and Federal funding associated with CCS projects (as per the Infrastructure Bill and Inflation Reduction Act), clarification regarding Exxon’s intentions would seem to be appropriate.

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Pursuant to section 50264(b) of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (Pub. L. No. 117-169), Congress has directed BOEM to award leases to the highest valid bidders in Lease Sale 257, which was held on November 17, 2021. Consistent with this direction, BOEM has accepted 307 of the highest valid bids, totaling $189,888,271.

A total of 33 companies participated in the lease sale, generating $191,688,984 in high bids for 308 tracts covering 1.7 million acres in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. One bid was rejected for not providing the public with fair market value.


Bottom line:

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A full day ahead of the deadline! Waiting for an announcement and details.

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Some of the lesser known Sale 257 bidders are intriguing. These companies have a clear and refreshing sense of identity and mission. Observations:

Red Willow Offshore LLC, high bidder on 5 blocks, is a private oil and gas exploration and production company owned by the Southern Ute tribe and headquartered in Ignacio, Colorado. Great mission statement: “Our mission is to create value for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe by exploring for and developing oil and gas resources while prioritizing safety, fiscal responsibility and respect for the environment and Tribal Cultural resources.‚ÄĚ

Otto Energy was high bidder on 1 block. If you wonder about the company name, Otto Energy was known as Ottoman Energy until 2006. Otto’s vision is to achieve outstanding business delivery as a partner of choice in the Gulf of Mexico. Their production base includes the South Marsh Island Block 71 field and interest in the Green Canyon 21 Bulleit field.

DG Exploration focuses on new play concepts for the mature continental shelf of the US Gulf of Mexico. They were the high bidder on 14 blocks. According to DG, these blocks control 5 of the best prospects in their portfolio. All the blocks are located in a prolific part of the basin where new high potential exploration has been absent since the early 1990s. By bringing in new technology and ideas, they aim to fundamentally reset the creaming curve for the Louisiana shelf.

Juneau Oil and Gas was high bidder on 4 blocks. Juneau was formed to focus a world class team of professionals on exploring the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico. ¬†Juneau Oil & Gas has returned to the roots of the founding members‚Äô past success at an opportune and strategic time in the ever-evolving oil and gas industry. Juneau correctly notes that “lease acquisition costs and royalty rates in the shallow water Gulf of Mexico are low relative to other basins, and there has been little competition for these leases after the steep and sustained decline in activity over the past decade.”¬†

Focus Exploration LLC was high bidder on 7 blocks. Like other GoM shelf companies, Focus’ principals created the company with the purpose of identifying and participating in high quality, low to moderate risk oil and gas projects.¬†¬†

CSL Exploration LP was high bidder on 1 block. CSL Capital Management, L.P. is an SEC registered investment firm focused on energy services and equipment businesses.  Headquartered in Houston, the CSL team has deep sector expertise in the energy industry and takes a hands-on approach to investments, relying on organic growth and strategic thinking to generate investment success.

Blackcomb Energy LLC was the high bidder on 1 block. Information on this company is limited, but it looks like they have onshore production in Colorado.

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Per legislation signed by the President on 8/16/2022, Sale 257 oil and gas leases are to be issued this week. Below is a list of the high bidders. (The carbon sequestration bids are not believed to be valid and are not included in this list.) Note the number of smaller and relatively unknown companies that participated in the sale. These smaller operators and investment companies add significantly to the vitality of the OCS program. BOE will comment on some of these companies in future posts.

Company No. of high bids
Houston Energy5
Red Willow5
Focus Exploration7
CSL Expl1
Blackcomb Energy1
Otto Energy1
Foster & Assoc.1
Juneau Oil and Gas5
DG Exploration 14

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