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As Legislators Prepare to Spend Millions, State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn Makes Millions

SANTA FE, NM – As the 2018 legislative session convenes, Gov. Susana Martinez and lawmakers are loosening their belts and bellying up to the trough of “new” money. Contrarily, the State Land Office is making money – and a lot of it.

The State Land Office on Tuesday collected more than $17 million from January’s oil and gas lease sale, bringing fiscal year earnings from oil and gas lease sales to $91.5 million. Tuesday’s sale also bumped fiscal year earnings-to-date to nearly $122 million, which is just shy of the all-time record of $123 million set in fiscal year 2012.

“Every month, five million barrels of oil are produced on State Trust Lands,” said State Land
Commissioner Aubrey Dunn. “These record-setting trends in the oil patch mean more money will flow to public schools, universities, hospitals, and other institutions and programs supported by the agency.”

Beneficiaries of Tuesday’s lease sale and their respective earnings are:
• Public schools: $15,722,717
• Eastern New Mexico University: $71,700
• New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute: $859,750
• New Mexico State University: $555,450
• New Mexico School for the Deaf: $80,250
• New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired: $80,250

Commissioner Dunn offered 23 tracts covering 5,635 acres of State Trust Lands in Chaves and Lea
Counties. This month, 40 bidders from six states and Canada registered.

The monthly lease sales, which are held on the third Tuesday of every month, are held online in sealed and open bidding formats. Sealed bids generated $15,769,867 and open bids brought in $1,600,250 for an average per acre price of $3,082.

Ameredev II, of Austin, TX, was the winning sealed bidder, paying $6.432 million for 320 acres in Lea County.

Petrogulf Corporation, of Denver, CO, was the winning active bidder, paying $1,100,050 for 80 acres, also in Lea County.

Oil and gas lease sale earnings are paid into the Land Maintenance Fund, which covers the State Land Office’s operating expenses. The agency is self-funded and spends about five cents of every dollar it earns. The remaining revenue is distributed directly to the beneficiaries, with the exception of public school monies which are paid into the state’s General Fund and distributed to each school district as appropriated by the Legislature.

Oil, gas, and mineral production, ranching and farming, and commercial development on State Trust Lands support public schools, seven universities, New Mexico Military Institute, New Mexico School for the Deaf, New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, three hospitals, correctional facilities, water conservation projects, and public building construction and repair. In fiscal year 2017, the State Land Office collected $664 million from lease payments, oil and gas lease sale earnings, rights-of-way, permits, interest, fees, and oil, gas, and mineral royalties.

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