Mary Tutwiler

June mineral lease sale a gusher

by Mary Tutwiler

Shale oil and gas finds in north Louisiana have pumped up state mineral leases to the highest levels in twenty-five years. The state Mineral Board collected $35.8 million in cash payments yesterday at the June lease sale, primarily from leasing taking place around the Haynesville Shale, in the northwest part of the state. The June lease sale revenue is more than double the bonus payments for the previous 11 months of fiscal year 2007-08 combined. Yesterday’s haul, added to $27.1 million the state has already received, brings the fiscal year total to $62.9 million, the highest year for the state since the oil boom years of 1982-83, which topped out at $125 million. Last year, the state received $52 million in bonus payments.

“This is an extraordinary time for Louisiana, particularly in north Louisiana, where we are experiencing something akin to a modern day gold rush due to excitement about the Haynesville Shale discovery,” says Mineral Board Secretary Majorie McKeithen. According to the state Department of Natural Resources, 25 of the 38 leases awarded in June were from Caddo, Red River and Bienville parishes. Typically, in the past, the state’s bonus for north Louisiana leases ran about $400 an acre. This month, the average bonus per acre for these leases was over $13,400 per acre.