Jeremy Alford

Lease sale shows some promise

by Jeremy Alford

Louisiana’s October oil and gas lease sale, conducted Wednesday, seemed promising for a change —even though Acadiana properties were shut out (none was nominated for purchase). The Mineral Board collected more than $12.1 million in bonuses for the state’s coffers, which trumps the previous six-year October average of $7.1 million. As such, the amount of money collected by the board year-to-date is also beginning to trend slightly upwards and now stands at nearly $23 million.

In all, 29 leases covering more than 1,600 acres were awarded during the October sale, out of 45 nominated tracts covering more than 17,500 acres. There remained a noticeable disparity between action in north and south Louisiana — of the 29 leases sold, 23 were in the north, while only six were located closer to the coast.

The board sold leases in nine parishes this week: Bossier, Bienville, Caddo, DeSoto, Natchitoches, Red River, Plaquemines, St. Helena and Terrebonne. All of the 23 north Louisiana leases that were sold this week were in the area of the Haynesville Shale natural gas formation, around the Shreveport region.

State officials said in a press release this week that lease sale prices remain strong in the shale play, with the 23 Haynesville Shale area leases averaging more than $8,300 an acre. They say lease prices in the shale are on the increase, averaging nearly $4,800 an acre in July and more than $6,500 an acre in August.

While the figures for the shale are strong compared to previous years, they’re not what they were during the heat of the 2008 rush. As for reaching further back, parishes in the Haynesville Shale area today were seeing average lease price sales of about $532 an acre in 2007 and roughly $252 an acre in 2006 — a far cry from the thousands of dollars the same land is presently commanding.