Alberta producers could play role in BC oil and gas rights sale this week

British Columbia reaches the halfway point in calendar year monthly sales of Crown petroleum and natural gas rights this week.

This month’s sale is set for Wed., June 20.

Each of the last two sales has generated less than $300,000 in bonus bids, and the five month total this year is just over $5 million.

That means the province is on pace for the worst calendar year amount posted by the Ministry of Natural Gas Development in records dating back to 1978.

They show the lowest annual bonus bids total during that period was $16.7 million in 1982, followed by the next lowest, $26 million, in 1983.

However, this year only the January and March totals have topped the million dollar mark, and Wednesday’s sale will need to more than double the sales of April and May combined just to get a total for the last three months above $1 million.

Thus the list of reasons for optimism that things could turn around in the near future is a very short one, but Art Jarvis, the Executive Director of Energy Services BC says the result of last month’s election in Alberta is a possibility.

“It’s very interesting to see who’s purchasing the land too,” said Jarvis.

“If you see maybe some new buyers this time, it might be because of the NDP government in Alberta, and although I don’t think the NDP government is going to make any drastic changes or changes in the near future, they’ve left uncertainty in that province to producers and so some of the producer are just hedging their bets and moving to Saskatchewan and B.C. with their future investments.

Jarvis continued: “Of course, they’ll maintain their properties in Alberta, but maybe some of their investment dollars will be coming this direction.”

This week opened with the Ministry offering a Wednesday sale investment opportunity on 15 parcels covering 8,600 hectares.

That actually compares favorably with last June when only five parcels covering 7,400 hectares were offered, and the sale still managed to generate nearly $10 million in bonus bids.

However, it was less than seven years ago when 146 of 149 parcels offered sold for $610 million in a record-breaking July 2008 sale.

The province finished the year with a bonus bids total of $2.6 billion.