Royal Dutch Shell leading charge back to Gulf of Mexico nine years after region was hit by BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Royal Dutch Shell is leading the charge back to the Gulf of Mexico nine years after the region was hit by BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Anglo-Dutch business splashed out $84.8 million (£64.7 million) on 87 drilling sites at an auction this month, having made just three bids at the previous auction in August last year.

Shell bosses have placed significant focus on the area in the past six months. At its results in January, the firm revealed production in the area had increased 50 per cent in two years to a peak of 40,000 barrels of oil a day.

Improved technology means it now costs Shell less than $10 per barrel to extract the crude oil from its deepwater operations, and it is of higher quality than oil produced onshore.

In total, the latest auction generated $244 million (£184 million) of bids across the 1.26 million acres.

The biggest bid for a single block was by Norway’s Equinor at $24.5 million. The sums beat the $178 million in August’s auction and the $125 million last March.

Oil prices have risen steadily over the past few years and the cost of extracting oil offshore in the Gulf of Mexico has fallen by around 50 per cent in the past five, according to consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

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