Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 169 wasn’t a record, unlikethe last few lease sales, but heavy bidding seems to indicate lowcrude oil prices have not affected the industry’s aggressivedrilling plans. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s MineralsManagement Service (MMS) reported receiving 1,188 bids on 794tracts offered Wednesday. A total of 87 companies participated inthe sale. All bids totaled nearly $1.35 billion, and high bidstotaled more than $810.4 million. Of 4,180 tracts offered, 794received bids with an average of 1.5 bids per tract. By comparison,Central Gulf Sale 166, which took place a year ago, generated morethan $824 million in high bids but on more tracts. Then, 1,032tracts received bids of 5,059 offered.