Drop in interest for oil and gas leases in Gulf; in a first, blocks next to Mexico for sale

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NEW ORLEANS — Regulators say only 195 bids were placed on the 41 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico up for new oil and gas leasing off of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

That's the lowest number since 1986 when 129 bids were offered, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. It says the low price of oil accounts for the lackluster interest.

Still, the agency is upbeat about the future of offshore drilling, a prime source of income for the federal government.

The lease sale is taking place Wednesday at the Louisiana Superdome. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is attending.

The sale encompasses productive and sought-after leases in an area of the Gulf roughly the size of Washington state.

In a first, the Interior Department is offering leases along the Mexican-U.S. border.

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