Royal Dutch Shell plc, Chevron Corp and Exxon Mobil Corp signaled the oil industry’s return to the Gulf of Mexico’s deep waters with high bids in a government auction up 76 percent over a year ago.
The auction of offshore oil and gas parcels received nearly $275 million in high bids, compared with $156.4 million a year ago. The year-ago auction drew the fourth lowest total bids for leases in the central Gulf.
The oil industry had moved away from deep water projects as oil prices fell and regulatory scrutiny increased following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in April 2010, the largest accidental marine oil spill.
The five-month-long spill, which spewed some 210 million U.S. gallons (780,000 m3) into the Gulf, caused extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats, as well as to the area’s fishing and tourism industries, forcing BP to sell assets worth of billions of dollars.
Wednesday’s auction was the first under President Donald Trump, who has promised to cut permitting and regulatory hurdles in support of energy exploration.