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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Petroleum producers looking for land in two of North America's hottest oil and gas plays pushed returns from rights sales in Saskatchewan and British Columbia this month to C$$744 million ($699 million).
The two western Canadian provinces are benefiting from keen interest in emerging unconventional oil and gas plays on their territory.
British Columbia, home to the red-hot Horn River shale gas play, where producers have announced what may be among Canada's biggest-ever natural gas finds, said on Thursday it received C$501 million in bids for exploration rights in its August sale.
The total included C$321.4 million for six parcels in the western portion of the Horn River play in the province's northeast.
So far this year, the province has reaped a record C$1.8 billion from the sale of drilling rights.
In Saskatchewan, which lies over the northern reach of the multibillion-barrel Bakken oil field, producers bid a total C$242.7 million for rights to drill in the province.
Parcels over the Bakken field, which also runs through parts of the U.S. border states of North Dakota and Montana, sold for C$213.3 million, the province said on Thursday.
So far this year, Saskatchewan has raised C$848.1 million from oil and gas land sales.
Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Rob Wilson