Louisiana’s mineral lease sales brought in $5.5 million in bonus payments for the 2015-16 fiscal year, the lowest amount in more than two decades, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.
The state’s fiscal year runs from July to June. During the previous fiscal year, the state collected $14 million in bonus payments.
The 2015-16 fiscal year bonus payments were unusually low, but oil prices also have been unusual, said department spokesman Patrick Courreges.
“What you’re seeing now is a very specific issue with the commodity price,” Courreges said. “A lot of companies and the investors they’re looking to back them do not have a line on ‘OK, when does this get better? When is this worth investing in again?’ ”
Right now, drilling is down, leasing is down, and energy companies are reeling back investment, he said.
Oil’s price has recovered somewhat. It’s now about $50 a barrel, but it hasn’t been that long since prices were more than $80 or $90, which made it much easier to finance drilling projects and leases.
Three times during the fiscal year, the monthly lease sales brought in less than $50,000, Department of Natural Resources records show. Most of the bonus payments came in August, when buyers ponied up $3 million for 21 leases covering more than 1,400 acres.
It’s not the first time the state’s lease sales have fallen. In 2009, issues in the broader economy affected leasing activity, Courreges said. But the current level of activity, or inactivity, and the sustained drop in oil prices hasn’t been experienced in a long time.
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