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Lease Sale Shows Promise 

  Louisiana's October oil and gas lease sale seemed promising — for a change. The Mineral Board collected more than $12.1 million in bonuses, trumping the previous six-year October average of $7.1 million. The amount 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 near the coast. The board sold leases in nine parishes: Bossier, Bienville, Caddo, DeSoto, Natchitoches, Red River, Plaquemines, St. Helena and Terrebonne. All of the 23 north Louisiana leases were in the area of the Haynesville Shale natural gas formation in the Shreveport region. State officials said in a news release that lease sale prices remain strong in the shale play, with the 23 Haynesville Shale area leases averaging more than $8,300 an acre. 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, they say.

  While the figures for the shale are strong compared to previous years, they're not what they were during the height of the 2008 rush. Parishes in the Haynesville Shale area saw 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 commands now. — Jeremy Alford


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