The Trump administration on Thursday held an auction for oil and gas leases on more than 7,000 acres in New Mexico, its last before a U.S. election that is expected to determine the future of drilling on public lands.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) raised more than $3 million in bids on 11 land parcels via an online auction, attracting less interest than New Mexico sales held before the oil and gas industry was hit with sharply lower demand and prices due to the coronavirus pandemic. The lands overlay parts of the Permian Basin, the world’s biggest oilfield.
The average price per acre that the BLM received from the auction this go-round was $403—a far cry from the $4,500+ per acre that it has taken in on average during President Trump’s time in office, according to Reuters.
Part of the lack of interest, on top of oil and gas companies being particularly strapped for cash, could be the timing of the presidential election, but that didn’t stop everyone.
The top per-acre fee for this auction was $11,353. The low, in contrast, went for an average of $15 per acre.
In August, the BLM held other land auctions for the oil and gas industry after canceling several in the midst of the pandemic. The BLM also plans to hold land auctions in California in what will be the first such auction in seven years.