Gulf of Mexico lease sale proves low-key

Although 63 companies submitted bids at central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale No. 175, observers said it was a decent but unspectacular turnout with many near-minimum bids.In some quarters, it was expected that this last central gulf sale for which the Deep Water Royalty Relief Act of 1995 was in effect would be stronger than it was. The act is due to expire this year, after the next western gulf sale in August.One reason for the lower-than-expected turnout could be that all the most prospective blocks have been taken, says Bob Stewart of the National Ocean Industries Association. "It's pretty picked over," he said.Nevertheless, US Minerals Management Service Regional Director Chris Oynes...

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