Riding the wave of interest in the Permian Basin, which traverses the southeastern corner of the state, New Mexico's State Land Office (SLO) reported garnering near $8 million from an oil and natural gas auction earlier this month.

Nearly $60 million has been raised through state lease sales to date this fiscal year.

The SLO offered 23 tracts covering 6,877 acres of state trust lands in four counties, netting more than $7.9 million. The parcels were in Chaves, Eddy, Lea and Roosevelt counties.

"Business is booming in the Permian Basin, and fortunately for public education, state trust lands lie in the path of production," said State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn. "So far this fiscal year, we've earned nearly $60 million just from the lease sales, and public schools' share is more than $43 million."

This month’s sale attracted 30 bidders from seven states. Sealed bids generated $5.71 million and open bids garnered $2.19 million.

Winning bids in both the sealed and open categories went to Roswell, NM-based Estacado Land Services LLC, which paid $1.06 million for a 314.69-acre tract, and $1.09 million for a 320-acre tract, both in Lea County.

The biggest beneficiaries of the added revenues in the state are public schools, which are in line to gain $43 million for the sales so far in the 2018 fiscal year, along with the New Mexico Military Institute and state water reservoirs, Dunn said. Lease sale earnings are paid into the Land Maintenance Fund, which covers the expenses of the SLO.

The agency is self-funded, spending about 5 cents of every $1 earned, Dunn said. The remaining revenue is distributed directly to beneficiaries. For the latest sale the distribution sent $5.8 million to public schools; $1.9 million to the military institute; and $161,801 to the water reservoirs.