By the Associated Press

The federal government says three companies are bidding on acreage in the Gulf of Mexico off Texas — and they’ve made a total of 24 bids on 24 tracts out of more than 4,000 offered.

That’s even fewer than last year’s sale, which was the smallest ever for the western Gulf. Last year, five companies made $22.7 million in high bids — also one per tract, on 33 tracts.

The statistics were released in advance of Wednesday’s (Aug. 24) sale, which is the first to be broadcast live on the internet.

At earlier sales, an official from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management read bids to oil company representatives and others in a Superdome ballroom in New Orleans. A bureau spokeswoman says protests in March and April played a part in the change, but the agency also wants to broaden the audience by opening it to people anywhere.

The three companies bidding are BP Exploration and Production Inc., BHP Billiton Petroleum Inc., and Exxon Mobil Corp. BP bid on 13 tracts, BHP on nine tracts and Exxon Mobil bid on two.

When the bids were actually opened Tuesday at BOEM’s offices in Elmwood, about a dozen protestors attempted to access the meeting. One was allowed to deliver a petition with 184,000 electronic signatures opposing the lease sale. Four others were arrested when they refused to leave the building until getting a response from President Obama.

Opponents contend continued drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere will serve to extend consumers’ dependency on fossil fuel and worsen climate conditions.

http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2016/08/few_bids_received_in_protested.html

Associated Press: Few Bids Received in Protested Gulf of Mexico Drilling Lease Sale