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NMMI receives more than $98K from $12M lease sale

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An Aug. 21 oil and gas lease sale held by the New Mexico State Land Office generated more than $12 million, a large portion of which has been earmarked specifically for the University of New Mexico to offset state cuts to athletic programs.

The State Land Office also predicted that it will generate $1 billion in revenues in 2018-2019 due primarily to increased oil and gas production.

State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn said he decided to include additional tracts of land in this month’s sale that specifically benefit the University of New Mexico to show his support for the quartet of sports that were cut because of budgetary and Title IX compliance issues.

“I wanted to show my support for the student-athletes who comprise the men’s soccer, men’s and women’s skiing and women’s beach volleyball teams,” Dunn said. “With the money we’re directing to the university, I would hope they can find a way to fund these programs.”

All told, UNM will receive $3,151,205 from the proceeds of the sale, which attracted 31 bidders from six states.

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Other beneficiaries of the August sale and their respective earnings are as follows: K12 Public Schools, $8,214,800; New Mexico Miner’s Hospital: $156,160; Charitable Programs, Penal and Reform: $467,382; and the New Mexico Military Institute, $98,843

Each month, oil and gas lease sales are held online in sealed and open bidding formats. The August sale featured 25 tracts for a total of 6,082 acres in Eddy and Lea counties.

Santa Fe’s Federal Abstract was the high bidder in the sealed bid and online portions of the sale, acquiring 2,922.17 acres for $10,082,409.53, for an average per-acre price of $3,450.32. Eight bidders paid almost $12.1 million.

In announcing the August sales result, Dunn also said that the State Land Office is predicting that it will earn $1 billion this current fiscal year and that the Land Grant Permanent Fund could surpass $20 billion. But, he said, those projections depend on several factors, including who the next Public Lands Commissioner will be. A new commissioner will be elected in November and take office in January.

“We’ve had two very successful sales, royalties are continuing to increase, and, with oil production on trust lands approaching 7 million barrels per month, we are on course to generate $1 billion in revenues this year,” Dunn said. “It’s a testament to the tireless efforts of everyone at the agency who continues to work on behalf of New Mexico’s schoolchildren and all of our beneficiaries.”

The State Land Office is tasked with optimizing revenues while protecting the health of the land for future generations. The agency is responsible for administering 9 million acres of surface and 13 million acres of subsurface estate for the beneficiaries on the state land trust.