- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Freeport-McMoRan Oil & Gas’s high bids made up 37 percent of the $850.8 million total at Wednesday’s federal oil lease sale for the central Gulf of Mexico.

Freeport-McMoRan’s high bids totaled $321.4 million, including the day’s biggest: $68.8 million.

The sale was the first since the government said BP can again get federal contracts. BP’s high bids on 24 tracts totaled $41.6 million.

BP was suspended from new federal business after pleading guilty in 2012 to charges from the 2010 oil spill. The suspension was lifted Friday.

Fifty companies bid on 326 blocks in the central gulf. The government also opened bids made last year on three tracts near the maritime boundary between the United States and Mexico.

The 2013 central gulf sale totaled $1.2 billion.

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