BLM offering oil and gas leases in Garfield, Rio Blanco counties
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Federal land managers plan to auction off 12 oil and gas lease parcels in Rio Blanco and Garfield counties next month, totaling more than 7,000 acres of public land.
The parcels range in size from an 80-acre lease in Garfield County to a 1,970-acre parcel in Rio Blanco County, according to documents available on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website.
The auction is to be held on May 12 at the BLM state office in Lakewood.
The lands being offered for lease all are controlled by the BLM, which conducted an environmental assessment of the proposed lease sale to determine which lands are or are not appropriate for leasing.
That assessment, which covered more than 30,000 acres contained in 28 parcels, was posted for public review and comment in November and December of last year.
Since the environmental assessment was completed, the BLM has whittled down the list of parcels for lease based on guidelines within the agency’s Resource Management Plan and other considerations, according to Jim Sample, public relations specialist with the BLM office in Lakewood.
Sample said the reasons for pulling a particular parcel from the auction list are myriad, ranging from environmental issues to market considerations. He said the agency typically does not announce the reasons prior to a sale.
The May sale is based on an “expression of interest,” which may be filed by individuals or companies asking that a certain area of BLM land be included in a future sale.
The identity of those filing an expression of interest remain confidential until one day after the sale is completed, according to the BLM Oil and Gas Leasing Instructions, available on the agency’s website.
The White River Field Office of the BLM, which administers the parcels to be auctioned in May, controls roughly 2.7 million acres, 83 percent of which (2.2 million acres) lie on top of federal mineral assets.
Of that amount, according to the Environmental Assessment, 1.7 million acres are available for leasing to oil and gas interests.
Fully three-quarters of those lands already are leased, according to the assessment. The remainder, approximately 295,000 acres, are off limits to drilling as wilderness or park lands, according to the assessment.
As of the writing of the Environmental Assessment, the White River Field Office lands were home to more than 5,800 wells drilled since the 1920s.
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