The Energy Ministry is calling it a banner year, but this year’s monthly sales of BC natural gas and petroleum rights fell short of the 2009 total, of just under $893 million.

The December sale yesterday resulted in bonus bids of more than $42 million, a marked improvement over November’s disappointing sale of just $1.2 million.

That left the calendar year total at almost $845 million, which is the fourth best on record, but is also the smallest total in the last four years.

20 of the 23 parcels offered yesterday sold for an average per hectare price of just under two thousand dollars.

The key sale this year was in June, when 108 parcels sold for more than $404 million, with an average per hectare price of more than three thousand.

The first sale of the New Year is set for Jan. 19, and 25 parcels will be offered covering more than 32,000 hectares.