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The Louisiana Mineral and Energy Board rejected several bids in May auctions for exploration rights in the controversial Tuscaloosa Marine Shale oil and gas formation.

The May auction netted about $581,000 on state and local lands, down sharply from the $1.8 million collected in April, the Times Picayune said.

The mineral board rejected more than $95,000 in bids during the May sale, most for St. Helena and East Feliciana parishes.

The board didn’t accept bids “because they were too low, according to state records,” the Times Picayune said.

“Activity in the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale has been the center of controversy as [Texas-based Comstock Oil & Gas Louisiana LLC]  seeks to drill a new well targeting the formation in St. Tammany Parish,” the report said.

“Residents there say the fracking method used to explore the area will blemish the local landscape, cause environmental damage and lead to health problems.”

The state awarded 12 leases total covering 1,817 acres out of 47 nominated tracts covering more than 30,840 acres.

In April, 32 leases were sold for $1.8 million.

The Tuscaloosa Marine Shale formation that stretches from central Louisiana to the  Florida Parishes holds an estimated seven billion barrels of oil.

Among the seven May bidders, Baton Rouge-based Cypress Energy Corp. was the top bidder. It offered about $371,000 for five tracts in Terrebonne Parish, including about $64,000 for 304 acres in state waters.

Leases were also awarded in Acadia, Allen, Cameron, Plaquemines, St. Helena and St. Martin parishes, the Time Picayune said.

Comstock Oil & Gas was only awarded one lease at a bonus of $32,895 for 129 acres in St. Helena.

Both bids by Houston-based HK TMS — $14,715 total for two leases in East Feliciana Parish — were rejected.

“The Louisiana Mineral and Energy Board has collected $17.1 million so far this fiscal year, which began July 1, 2013. The state collected $18.3 million total during the previous fiscal year,” the Times Picayune said.