Congratulations to Chevron, the highest bidder in an auction this morning for the right to drill in several plots in the western Gulf of Mexico. BP, as you may have heard, was ineligible to win, because a rig on one of their plots blew up a few years ago.

From Reuters:

Chevron’s highest bid of $17.2 million was for a tract about 140 miles (225.3 km) south of Galveston, Texas. …

Chevron also submitted the top sum of high bids at $56 million, followed by ConocoPhillips at $51.7 million, BHP Billiton at $14.5 million and Exxon Mobil Corp at $5.9 million.

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Simmons & Company International said in a note to investors on Wednesday that the 116 tracts that received bids were 3 percent of those offered. The last western Gulf lease sale in December 2011 garnered bids on 5 percent of tracts offered.

The government offered 3,873 blocks in total, about one-third of which were in deep water. (Next March, there will be an auction for tracts in the central Gulf.) The $56 million in bids Chevron offered today is even larger than its other recent investment: $4 million during the most recent political cycle.

The auction was held in New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the stadium that famously hosted thousands of displaced residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Superdome is about 100 miles northwest of the where the Deepwater Horizon disaster occurred. Which is why we’re suggesting the following informal name for the auction: the Mercedes-Katrina-Deepwater Oil Drilling Sale. Please use this nomenclature in any future communication.

To get to the drilling-plot auction, head northwest from this location.

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