The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in the US has announced that Gulf of Mexico lease sale 256 has generated nearly $121m in high bids for 93 tracts covering around 79 million acres in federal waters.

The figure is significantly higher compared to the previous oil and gas lease sale in March that received $93m in high bids.

A total of 23 companies submitted $135.5m worth of bids in the latest auction, which was also the last oil and gas lease sale under the current US administration.

Lease sale 256 featured 14,862 unleased blocks located in the western, central and eastern planning areas of the Gulf of Mexico in water depths ranging from 3m to 3,400m.

Shell Offshore placed high bids for 21 tracts, followed by EnVen Energy Ventures with 13. BP and Chevron units placed high bids for ten tracts each.

The highest bid was nearly $12m for a block in the Walker Ridge area. It was placed by divisions of Equinor and Repsol, Reuters reported.

The sale was scheduled in August but was postponed to November to carry out additional analyses of the oil and gas industry following the Covid-19 crisis.

BOEM Gulf of Mexico region director Mike Celata said: “Despite circumstances imposed by the coronavirus, we are confident that industry remains interested in acquiring new leases to support their portfolios.

“The Gulf of Mexico is a world-class resource area that serves a key role in our nation’s energy security.”

The subsequent Gulf of Mexico lease sale is planned for March. Lease sale 257 will offer around 78.2 million acres and will be the eighth offshore sale under the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.