Grand County oil and gas leases coming up for sale | SkyHiNews.com

Grand County oil and gas leases coming up for sale

In just a few short months, the Bureau of Land Management will offer up 106 oil and gas leases for sale on Colorado's western slope.

The parcels cover a total of 100,816 acres of land in Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties. Grand County represents a small portion of the overall lease offerings with 20 parcels up for bidding. Bidding on the lease purchases will be held Friday June 9. Bidding will begin at 9 a.m.

The lease offerings in Grand County are clustered in an area west of Granby and are mostly north of US Highway 40 though a few of the parcels are south of the highway. BLM spokeswoman Courtney Whiteman said the parcels offered under the sale were selected for the lease process because various organizations or entities have previously expressed interest in purchasing those mineral rights. Whiteman said the types of minerals beneath the ground can vary among the various parcels and said, it could be a mix of multiple forms of oil or gas.

Bidding for the leases will be conducted online through a staggered bidding process with a different parcel coming up for bid every few minutes. Each parcel will have a two-hour bidding time period, after which the process will be closed and the sale awarded to the highest bidder. Whiteman said there is a $2 minimum bid requirement for all parcels and described the process as an online silent auction.

A press release from the BLM states, "Each lease, if issued, will contain stipulations and best management practices designed to address air quality and water resources while ensuring safe and environmentally responsible development."

Whiteman said the BLM has a few broad, best-management practices that are applied to most all of the parcels, but that most parcels will have their own individual best management practices specific to a particular site. Such stipulations could take a variety of forms, Whiteman said, but discussed site-specific practices in broad goal related terms.

"There might be sensitive species in the area," Whiteman said. "There might be steep slopes or nearby waters sources that need protecting. If drilling or development does occur the stipulations would be specific to those specific areas."

Whiteman highlighted timing limitations as one example of a best management practice. "We might have timing limitations to protect big game habitat where we would not allow drilling when big game might be moving through; or maybe restrict surface occupancy."

Whiteman explained that if surface occupancy were restricted on any parcels such regulations would prevent the development of surface structures but not the act of drilling itself.

The federal government manages all the minerals offered under the lease purchases. Whiteman said the leases are located on both public and private land.

"Of the 20 parcels we are offering in Grand County in the June lease sale, eight are completely beneath BLM-managed land and 12 are wholly or partially beneath privately owned land," she said.

Citizens can still protest against the inclusion of specific parcels in the lease offering. The deadline to submit protests is April 10. Anyone wishing to protest the leasing of a parcel must submit written complaints to the BLM's Colorado State Office at 2850 Youngfield Street in Lakewood. The environmental assessment, lists and maps of the parcels offered for lease, and the attached stipulations can be found online at https://www.blm.gov/programs/energy-and-minerals/oil-and-gas/leasing/regional-lease-sales/colorado.

According to the BLM the Colorado Division of the Federal agency received $98 million in Federal revenues in fiscal year 2016 from oil and gas leases on public lands.