The first online-only auction of US Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas blocks went ahead without a hitch on Wednesday but the response was fairly underwhelming with only 24 bids from three companies on the 4,399 blocks covering 23.8m acres off of Texas.
The bidding firms were supermajors BP and ExxonMobil, plus Australian giant BHP Billiton and their total bids, none of which were for the same blocks, amounted to $18m.
With just 24 of the 4,399 blocks bid on, less than 140 acres were covered. BHP bid on 12 blocks, BP on 10 and ExxonMobil on just two.
The blocks on offer ranged from between nine to 250 nautical miles offshore, in depths ranging from 16ft to 10,975ft.
There is a three-month evaluation process but with no contested bids it seems these bids will succeed.
A day prior to the auction, environmentalists had protested outside Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) offices in New Orleans, saying the livestreamed process shut out the public’s voice.
At previous conventional lease sales, protesters had registered their presence with disruptive actions.
BOEM, which ran this lease sale, is the body charged with managing the development of the nation’s offshore resources in an environmentally and economically responsible way. It falls under the umbrella of the Department of the Interior.