British Columbia says energy lease sales at record

Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:24pm EDT
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - British Columbia's take from oil and gas lease sales rose to a record C$1.2 billion ($1.18 billion) for the current fiscal year, the Western Canadian province said on Thursday, thanks to growing interest in tapping the region's natural gas reserves.

The province said sales for the fiscal year ending March 31 more than doubled the previous record of C$625.7 million, set in 2003-2004. Prices per hectare also rose to a new high of C$1,863, up 89 percent from the previous high set last year of C$984 per hectare.

Interest among energy companies in tapping British Columbia's gas fields is climbing, particularly after EOG Resources Inc revealed last month that it had found a 6 trillion cubic foot gas field in the Horn River basin in the northeastern corner of the province, one of Canada's biggest-ever finds.

Three parcels in the Horn River region were offered at a lease sale held on Wednesday. They fetched a combined C$51.1 million. The geology of the region has been compared to the prolific Barnett Shale gas region of Texas.

"These exceptional land rights sales show British Columbia is a top jurisdiction for oil and gas investment," said Richard Neufeld, the province's energy minister.

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

(Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Rob Wilson)