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June 06, 2008 --- Vol. 14, No. 60June 2008

BP dominates Canadian Beaufort bidding

BP Exploration has taken a headlong plunge into Canada’s Beaufort Sea with a successful bid of C$1.18 billion to secure exploration rights to 500,000 acres northwest of a 507,000 acre block locked up by Imperial Oil and ExxonMobil for C$585 million last year.

The latest bidding round conducted by the Northern Oil and Gas Directorate of the federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development was an even bigger success than the startling results achieved in 2007.

Five Beaufort exploration licenses were awarded June 6 for work commitments of almost C$1.2 billion, with BP making the second largest bid of C$15.1 million for 507,000 acres and wrapping up the bidding round with a C$1.1 million commitment for 503,000 acres.

All three of its parcels are adjoining and lie east of the Imperial-ExxonMobil parcel.

In the same cluster, ConocoPhillips made a pledge of C$2.54 million for 485,000 acres.

The fifth parcel in the Mackenzie Delta region covered 102,000 acres and went to a partnership of junior Arctic explorer MGM Energy with 60 percent, ConocoPhillips 27.5 percent and Phillips Petroleum Canada 6.25 percent.

Indian Affairs and Northern Development Minister Chuck Strahl said that issuing the licenses to explore for northern oil and gas meets a government commitment to advance economic growth and investment in the region, create jobs for northerners, bolster Canada’s sovereignty claims and ensure a “unique and delicate environment is protected for future generations.”

Nellie Cournoyea, chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, said her community looks forward to the economic benefits that would flow from the revival of Beaufort hydrocarbon exploration.

The Beaufort came back to life last year with the surprise joint bid by ExxonMobil and Imperial, which is almost 70 percent owned by ExxonMobil. ConocoPhillips entered the picture with a C$12.08 million bid for 256,000 acres and Chevron Canada acquired rights to 267,000 acres for C$1 million.

The Imperial-ExxonMobil venture has yet to explain whether it is targeting oil or natural gas, and is still working on an exploration program.

In the previous eight years, the Beaufort-Mackenzie Delta region attracted a combined C$658 million in work commitments.

Winning bidders in the region must submit work deposits covering 25 percent of their work proposal bid to be eligible for an exploration license.

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