- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The demand to lease Texas’ publicly held land for oil and gas exploration jumped three-fold in the past six months - even as oil prices have remained low.

Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced Tuesday that his office had auctioned leases for 13,000-plus acres of state land. That generated about $98 million for the Permanent School Fund, which helps cover public education costs.

During the previous auction in January, only around 4,400 acres were leased - down from about 11,800 acres in August 2015 and about 10,000 acres last January.

The average price per acre increased to $7,365, compared to around $2,500 per acre in January and about $1,700 in August 2015.

Bush said the results show Texas’ economy “can still thrive, even in a soft oil and gas market.”

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