- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The demand to lease Texas’ publicly held land for energy exploration has increased since last summer, despite low oil prices - but it generated lower average prices.

Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced Tuesday that his office had auctioned leases for about 14,000 acres.

That yielded around $84 million, or an average of less than $5,900 per acre, for the Permanent School Fund, which helps cover some public education costs.

During the last offering in July, Bush’s office auctioned leases for 13,000-plus acres but generated $98 million, a per-acre average of nearly $7,400.

In 2015, Bush began letting private oil companies submit online their bids to explore for oil and gas on Texas state land.

In a statement Tuesday, Bush said: “We’ve taken an antiquated paper-based auction and transformed it.”

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