HOUSTON, June 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Statoil was the high bidder on 26 leases in the first lease sale in the Central Gulf of Mexico since March of 2010. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20101006/STATOILLOGO) With the addition, Statoil will control more than 350 leases in the Gulf of Mexico, further securing its significant lease holder position "We are very pleased with today's outcome," says Erik Finnstrom, Statoil senior vice president of Exploration for Statoil in North America. "This addition of leases allows us to further build upon our broad-based strategy for exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and further upgrades our core position in this prolific and proven basin." As the world's largest offshore operator and a leader in subsea technology, Statoil has been a partner in several major discoveries, including Jack, St. Malo, Julia, Vito and Logan. "The lease additions underscore our commitment to increased investment in North America, which we see as a core region for long-term growth. Our strategy involves acquiring prospects across a full range of plays – from those at the frontier level to very mature, drill-ready plays," Finnstrom says. "Statoil's growth in North America has been methodical, based on best practices and technological innovation honed from operating for 40 years in some of the world's harshest offshore regions." Statoil has six producing fields and has eight fields under development. At the moment the company is drilling the Bioko prospect in the central Gulf of Mexico region and plans to drill two to three more wells within the next 12 months offshore Gulf of Mexico, while also participating in an additional two to three wells drilled by its partners. Statoil is the operator of three of 2011's 10 largest oil and gas discoveries globally and has a strong safety and environmental record. The company has been active in North America for 25 years and, over the six years since it began operations, has acquired a broad portfolio with offshore and onshore assets in Canada and the U.S. The lease sale on June 20 was conducted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Statoil's winning bids are subject to review and final approval by the BOEM. This may take up to 90 days.