Energy companies bid $115 million for 162 separate tracts in the western Gulf of Mexico, about half of the leases bid on last year for $483.9 million.
The Energy Information Administration said crude in storage fell by 8.4 million barrels last week. Gasoline held in storage fell as well, but the draw down in crude was the big surprise.
The Gulf Coast could be the biggest loser in a shakeout of the U.S. refining business that some analysts and industry executives view as inevitable in coming years.
The price for a barrel of oil could fall to between $63 and $59 per barrel, said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates.
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