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Quarterly BLM Auction Nets About $13.3 Million

A quarterly oil and natural gas lease sale conducted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) last Wednesday netted about $13.3 million in revenues from the sale of leases on 48 federal parcels in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.

Bids on two parcels in Texas brought in more than $9.4 million; bids for 38 parcels in New Mexico netted $3.7 million; seven parcels in Oklahoma sold for more than $69,000; and a single parcel in Kansas sold for $160. Thirty-one bidders registered for the sale.

The highest bid per acre for a parcel came from Narenta Oil Co. of Santa Fe, NM. The producer bid $7,500 for 1,264 acres in Shelby County, TX, for a total of $9.48 million.

Fifty-two percent of the revenues from the sale will go to the federal government, while 48% goes to the state where the leased parcel is located. New Mexico will receive about $1.78 million from the sale.

The BLM auctioned a total of 51 parcels, comprising 21,250.65 acres, during the sale. BLM spokeswoman Donna Hummel said the BLM New Mexico office originally nominated 166 parcels for the auction, but 103 were deferred or removed from the sale due to environmental concerns.

An addition eight parcels, located in the San Juan Basin area, were deferred because the Hopi tribe in Arizona requested a tribal consultation with BLM to discuss its concerns about leasing the acreage, she said.

And four parcels in Las Cruces, NM, which are near wilderness and conservation areas, were deferred from the auction pending the receipt of guidance from BLM's minerals staff in Washington, according to Hummel.

Specifically, Hummel said the BLM office in New Mexico "felt it was prudent" to seek guidance on what should be the "appropriate distance-buffer" between oil and gas development and the 359,000 of wilderness and national conservation areas in southern New Mexico that the state's senators -- Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall -- have proposed.

Bingaman and Udall have introduced a bill called the "Organ Mountains -- Desert Peaks Wilderness Act," which seeks to create wilderness and conservation areas in southern New Mexico, with particular focus on protection of the Organ Mountains, Potrillo Mountains and Robledo Mountains.

The next BLM auction for parcels in the four states is scheduled for Jan. 20 at the agency's new office building in Santa Fe. Public review and comments on the parcels nominated for this sale are due by Tuesday (Oct. 27). A list of the nominated parcels can be found at www.blm.gov.

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