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That's the biggest-ever combined amount to come in a round of bids for exploration rights in the region.

The high bids come even as oil prices have cratered to near seven-year lows.

There were 11 parcels in total up for grabs, totaling 2.5 million hectares, in a horseshoe-shaped area around the Flemish Pass basin.

The Norwegian state-owned company Statoil which already has significant holdings in the Flemish Pass area is playing a role in six of the seven bids.

"The successful bids in these frontier areas offshore Canada are in line with Statoil's strategy of deepening our position in prolific basins and securing access at scale," Tim Dodson, Statoil's executive vice-president for exploration, said in a news release.

"The significant exploration investment offshore Newfoundland will provide Statoil an opportunity to further advance our established exploration position in this region through a step-wise approach."

ExxonMobil is partnering in three of the winning bids.

The province, through Crown-owned Nalcor Energy, has spent tens of millions of dollars doing work aimed at sparking industry interest in the potential of frontier areas off Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Companies pledge to spend $1.2B on N.L. offshore exploration - Newfoundland & Labrador - CBC News