Louisiana's Mineral and Energy Board collected more than $11.5 million in bonuses in its March lease sale in which buyers heavily favored tracts in South Louisiana as opposed to the northern part of the state.

The board awarded 32 leases covering more than 15,000 acres, out of 155 nominated tracts covering more than 232,000 acres. Leases were sold in Acadia, Avoyelles, Bossier, Cameron, DeSoto, East Feliciana, Plaquemines, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, Terrebonne and Vermilion parishes. Of the 32 tracts awarded, two were in North Louisiana and 30 were in the southern parishes.

Leading bidders were Theophilus Oil, Gas, & Land, which won seven leases for $4.6 million. Paramount Energy was the second largest spender, with $4.5 million on one lease.

The latest sale brought the total collected for fiscal year 2010-2011 to more than $35.9 million. For the calendar year the total is more than $14.3 million.

A month ago the February sale seemed to indicate an increase in interest in North Louisiana as 40% of tracts awarded in that sale were in northern parishes compared to January, when only 14% of tracts awarded were in the north (see Shale Daily, Feb. 14).

The Haynesville Shale runs through North Louisiana and bleeds over into East Texas. According to NGI's Shale Daily Unconventional Rig Count (see shaledaily.com), activity in the Haynesville/Bossier Basin has declined pretty significantly over the last year. In March 2010, nearly 200 rigs were actively drilling for oil and gas in the play. Currently, just more than 140 rigs are on the job.