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BLM Issues Roan Plateau Leases

Following up on its August sale, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) last week issued oil and natural gas leases for the Roan Plateau, noting that issuance of the leases does not automatically authorize drilling. "Additional environmental analysis and public planning will occur prior to any drilling on the Roan Plateau," an Interior Department official said.

The Aug. 14 lease sale generated $113.9 million in high bids, making it the largest onshore revenue generator (excluding Alaska) in BLM history (see NGI, Aug. 18). The State of Colorado will receive 49% of the lease sale revenue, or approximately $56 million. In addition, the leases will generate production royalties.

The Roan Plateau plan is expected to generate 1.79 Tcf of natural gas over 20 years. The area contains an estimated 8.9 Tcf of recoverable natural gas. This would add up to between $857 million to $1.13 billion in royalties and lease revenue over the next 20 years.

The leases were issued after BLM resolved protests lodged following the sale.

"We appreciate the time and attention the public has given to the Roan Plateau planning process over the last 10 years, and we look forward to continuing to work with local and state governments on future, site-specific management of the Roan Plateau," said Stephen Allred, Interior Department assistant secretary for lands and minerals management.

The Roan Plateau lease sale culminates a lengthy public planning effort by the BLM, working with state and local governments and constituent groups. In announcing earlier this year that it would go ahead with its proposed plan, BLM said that while it had not installed requirements specified by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, the rules as written met most of his concerns (see NGI, March 17). The BLM's plan includes strict environmental protections, BLM said, and places more than half of the 73,602-acre area off limits to surface disturbance. It also restricts development on top of the plateau to existing road corridors and ridge tops.

Ritter and several other state politicians had championed environmentalists' campaigns to restrict drilling on the plateau (see NGI, April 21).

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