An oil and gas lease sale for tracts in the Gulf of Mexico yielded $156 million in high bids on Wednesday despite being disrupted by protesters.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management held two sales in New Orleans on Tuesday, one for the Central Planning Area of the Outer Continental Shelf offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and one for the Eastern Planning Area south of eastern Alabama and western Florida. No bids were received in the Eastern Planning Area block, but 30 offshore energy companies bid on the Central area leases.

In the end, leases were sold on 128 tracts covering 693,962 acres, despite a crowd of climate protesters who attempted to disrupt the proceedings.

The Houston Chronicle reported that “amidst chants of ‘shut it down,’ a large crowd made their way inside” the New Orleans Superdome where the auction was held, and attempted to “[drown out] government staff trying to read out the results of the auction.”



The Associated Press reported that the protesters numbered 150.

According to BOEM officials, the sale's winning bids marked the fourth-lowest total in the Gulf’s central planning area since 1983.

“Even though today’s Eastern Gulf sale was a non-starter, and the Central Gulf sale saw the lowest industry interest in the history of such sales, the companies that stepped up and submitted bids demonstrated their commitment to staying in U.S. waters and producing home grown energy, despite a tough operating environment,” said Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, an offshore interest group.

Last week, the Obama administration announced a ban on oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast, a move cheered by environmental groups, but denounced by oil and gas interests.