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Yesterday's Interior Department sale of Gulf of Mexico oil-and-gas leases drew modest action, with companies offering roughly $125 million in winning bids (and $139 million in total bids). The chart below shows the companies that submitted the highest total winning offers in Lease Sale 250 and how many blocs they successfully bid on.

Expand chart
Data: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

One reason it matters: The expectations game. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told a major energy conference in Houston this month that the sale would be a "bellwether" for industry interest in new Gulf leases.

The previous Gulf auction in August drew $121 million in high bids, while the one before that — a year ago — drew almost $275 million in high bids.

Context: The sale arrives at a time when the Gulf is competing with onshore U.S. shale and offshore opportunities in other regions, such as Brazil's massive fields.

  • "With about a 60% increase in acreage from August but relatively the same dollar amount and low competition, bidders got a bargain at today's lease sale. Bidding activity focused on Mississippi Canyon where operators were likely drawn to its established infrastructure and lowest cost developments in the Gulf of Mexico," said William Turner, an analyst with the consultancy Wood Mackenzie, in a short note.

The bids were nowhere near the salad days of Gulf lease sales, which have seen several billion dollars in total bids on some occasions over the years. The last billion-dollar sale was in 2013 — when high bids totaled $1.2 billion — while a 2008 sale brought $3.7 billion in high offers.

  • A full list dating back to the 1950s is here.

Yes, but: Via S&P Global Platts, "Sale 250 featured fairly high offers made by Shell for the four tracts offered in the remote Alaminos Canyon area that borders Mexican waters. Shell put down $6.5 million, $3.8 million, $2.1 million and $1.2 million, respectively, for the four blocks, and was the apparent high bidder on all."

  • Their piece also notes "spirited" bidding in the Mississippi Canyon region near the Louisiana coast.

Go deeper: Reuters has a detailed piece on the sale here.

Go deeper

Updated 36 mins ago - Science

Nor'easter slams East Coast with flooding rain and powerful winds

A residential area in Middlesex County as floodwater from the nor'easter covers streets in New Jersey on Tuesday. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A monster storm was slamming the Northeast with record rainfall and powerful winds over Tuesday night — causing flash flooding that resulted in people having to be rescued in New Jersey and New York roads to close.

Threat level: All of southern New England westward to New York City and northern New Jersey was under the threat of flash flooding and coastal flooding from the nor'easter through Tuesday night into early Wednesday, per the National Weather Service.

41 mins ago - World

Blinken speaks with Sudan prime minister after his release

Sudan's Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok. Photo: Ebrahim Hamid/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke on the phone on Tuesday evening with Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok after the military released him from custody.

Why it matters: Hamdok’s release was a result of pressure on Sudan’s military leader General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan from the U.S. and other countries but also from the different political parties in Sudan and massive protests in the streets.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Brazil senators vote to recommend criminal charges for Bolsonaro

Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.