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March 31, 1994|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Bids for Gulf of Mexico Oil Tracts Rise Sharply: A potential frontier of new petroleum development and higher natural gas prices led to a sharp jump in bidding for drilling tracts offshore from Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. High bids totaling $277 million were received as the federal government leased 375 blocks of nine square miles each in the Gulf of Mexico, the Minerals Management Service said. Eighty-two companies participated in the sale. That's up from last year's $69.1 million in high bids on 201 blocks. Much of the increased interest apparently stemmed from a successful well drilled off the Louisiana coast last year that showed there is oil and gas below a massive layer of salt that lies deep in the earth's crust.

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