Oil companies facing an industrywide glut showed low interest Wednesday in bidding on offshore drilling rights in the western Gulf of Mexico.
At the first-ever drilling-rights auction to be live streamed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), only 24 tracts of ocean received bids, and just one bid per tract, out of the nearly 4,400 made available to companies.
The bids came from only three companies and totaled just over $18 million, the lowest amount ever at a drilling-rights auction. That compared with $22.7 million in high bids from the last sale in March, which was the smallest at the time.
The BOEM’s first live-stream auction, which took place at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, also experienced some technical glitches such very low sound and a several-minute-long pause in the middle.
Despite the setbacks at the Wednesday sale, the BOEM was proud of its decision to move to live streaming.
“Our goal in live streaming the sale is to increase transparency and public access by providing the opportunity for anyone anywhere to view our sale-day process with just a few keystrokes,” BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper said at the event.
“BOEM has been holding lease sales for a long time, and we are truly excited to be able to use modern technology to reach a broader audience and share information and save taxpayer money and reduce our carbon footprint.”
Environmental activists protested the sale outside the venue, asking the Obama administration to shut it down.
They used the recent flooding in Louisiana to make their case, arguing that more fossil-fuel development would lead to further global warming and more extreme weather.
The live-stream auction was planned in part to minimize the impact of protesters. At the sale, protesters stormed the stage at the Superdome and chanted over bid reading in an effort to disrupt the event.