- Associated Press - Thursday, December 22, 2016

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The federal government has scheduled its last oil lease sale to cover only the most active area in the Gulf of Mexico, with Gulf-wide sales to begin in 2018.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management says the next central Gulf lease sale will be March 22, offering 48 million acres off of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. It’s held separate western and central Gulf sales since 1983.

Low oil prices have caused low interest recently. This year’s central Gulf sale brought the fewest bids since 1986. Forty-two companies made 195 bids - down from 380 bids in 2015 and more than 500 in previous years.

The agency got 33 bids from only three companies in an August sale of tracts off the Texas coast.


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