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Italian oil giant Eni SpA (E - Analyst Report) has won five offshore exploration blocks after beating its rivals within the Central Gulf of Mexico (GoM) Lease Sale in the U.S. However, the lease awards are pending the final approval by local authorities.

Located in Mississippi Canyon and Desoto Canyon – the blocks rest in water depths ranging from 1,400 feet (about 400 meters) to 8,000 feet (about 2500 meters).

The value of the blocks awarded in lease sale 227 in New Orleans has been kept confidential. Though it is believed that Eni would retain the operatorship of these blocks, details regarding whether it would own 100% or will be partnered were not disclosed.

Currently, Eni holds 174 exploration leases in two of the key areas in the GoM, where these new blocks consolidate its acreage position. The company has lease interests in 281 blocks in the GoM, with a net daily production of about 88,000 barrels of oil equivalent. Eni operates more than 60% of the blocks.

A total amount exceeding $1.6 billion had been placed by companies in bids for deep-water acreage in central lease sale 227, with 407 offers in 320 tracts out of the 7,299 available.

Recently, Statoil ASA (STO - Analyst Report) won 15 leases in the central region of the GoM in the Walker Ridge Block 271 prospect in an auction under the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). With this addition, the Norwegian giant will get hold of over 340 leases in the GoM region in total.

US supermajor, ExxonMobil Corporation’s (XOM - Analyst Report) bid of $66 million was the second highest in the sale of Keathley Canyon Block 789. This was higher than BHP Billiton Limited’s (BHP) offer of $55 million. ExxonMobil also submitted $220 million, the maximum amount in total high bids, among all the participating companies followed by Royal Dutch Shell plc (RDS.A - Analyst Report).

Eni carries a Zacks Rank #4 (short-term Sell rating).
 

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