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112 parcels sold at recent oil and gas lease sale

by Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News

Although the parcels nominated for oil and gas lease sale in Grand County were temporarily put on hold following protests from public officials in the area, the potential for oil and gas development still remains.

A map issued by the Bureau of Land Management shows oil and gas potential on public parcels between Hot Sulphur Springs and Granby as having “moderate” potential.

The highest potential for oil and gas in northwest Colorado surrounds the town of Walden.

Conversely, around Kremmling and between Walden and Hot Sulphur Springs, the prospects for oil and gas potential remains “low.”

At its quarterly oil and gas lease sale last week, the Bureau of Land Management’s Colorado office sold 112 parcels out of 126 parcels, or 102,989 acres out of the 114,950 acres of public lands offered.

The high bonus bid, for a 200-acre parcel in Garfield County, was $26,000 per acre, for a total bid of $5.2 million.

The lease sale earned $9,609,710.50 in proceeds ” 50 percent will go to the state of Colorado.

“Natural gas production from Colorado’s federal lands continues to play an important role in meeting the nation’s energy needs,” said Lynn Rust, BLM’s Colorado deputy state director for energy, lands and minerals. “Our focus is on smart up-front planning, solid implementation of best practices and working with industry to reduce environmental impacts.”

Land-use plans, which govern all BLM-managed lands, involve an extensive environmental review that determines which lands will be available for oil and gas exploration, and what conditions will be applied to minimize impacts.

Currently, the BLM office in Kremmling is updating this plan.

The public has opportunities to provide input throughout the process.

The Bureau also consults with other federal, state and local agencies, environmental groups and industry.

When preparing or revising land-use plans, or when parcels are nominated for leasing, the BLM considers available new information to determine whether any significant new impact has occurred since the completion of the existing plan.

The parcels offered for lease in the most recent sale were analyzed individually to determine whether the existing environmental analysis was adequate, according to a press release from the BLM.

Once an operator proposes exploration or development on a BLM-issued lease, the Bureau conducts further environmental analysis to determine what impact-limiting measures are needed.

These stipulations can help protect resources, wildlife habitat and scenic vistas.

“Protections are in place to minimize potential impacts from oil and gas exploration, development and production,” Rust said. “It’s important to remember that energy development and protection of natural resources are not mutually exclusive. BLM ensures that the development of energy resources is done in an environmentally sound manner on all lands we manage.”

BLM Colorado notifies the public of each land sale on its Web site and through e-mail notifications.

Anyone may file a protest on a parcel nominated for inclusion in a lease sale.

Protested parcels may still be offered, although bidders are notified that BLM will not issue a lease until the protests are resolved.

BLM manages more than 8 million acres of public lands for multiple uses in Colorado, as well as over 27 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate. The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 and the 1987 Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act authorize leasing of federal oil and gas resources; the 1987 law, which amended the Mineral Leasing Act, requires each BLM state office to conduct oil and gas lease sales on at least a quarterly basis where there is an interest in such sales.

The degree of interest is driven by market demands.

In addition to overseeing mineral leasing on BLM public lands, the Bureau also administers mineral leasing on all other federal lands.

Under the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

According to the BLM, it accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, energy production and mineral development, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural and other resources on the public lands.

-Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.


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