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EIA: Fossil Fuel Production on Federal Lands Slowed

While crude oil production increased slightly, overall fossil fuel production on federal and Native American lands decreased by 7% in fiscal year 2013, according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Natural gas and coal led the decline.

The EIA statistics, which note large declines in onshore gas production on federal lands in Wyoming and in offshore Gulf of Mexico federal acreage, mask robust production states, such as North Dakota, where the Fort Berthold Reservation has reported continuing strong production (see Shale Daily, April 28).

Production on Fort Berthold in February totaled 271,121 b/d of the state's 951,340 b/d total. In January, the totals were even higher on the reservation, hitting about 289,000 b/d.

EIA statistics indicated the decline in fossil fuel production on federal lands alone was also 7%, and for natural gas and coal the decline was steeper, with both dropping 9%.

The estimates by the federal energy numbers crunchers are based on data provided by the U.S. Department of Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) and include sales of federal onshore and offshore federal lands production as well as the American Indian lands. Fuels included are crude oil and lease condensate, natural gas, natural gas plant liquids and coal.

"The sales reported by ONRR are a reasonable proxy for marketed production for a fiscal year," an EIA spokesperson said. "They also include production leaving the lease that is exempt from royalty payments under various royalty relief programs."

Based on this sales data, EIA said that fossil fuels sales, 51% of which were for coal, on federal lands decreased from 17.2 trillion Btu in fiscal year 2012 to 15.9 trillion Btu this past fiscal year. Crude oil sales from federal lands increased 1% to 606 million bbl (a 1% decrease in offshore was offset by a 7% increase in smaller onshore volumes).

Sales of natural gas from federal lands decreased 10%  to 3.8 Tcf with both offshore (13%) and onshore (9%) declining, EIA said.

"Overall, fossil fuel production from federal lands generally declined [over the past decade ended with fiscal year 2013], down 21% compared with fiscal year 2003. Natural gas from federal lands declined steadily, down 43% during the past 10 fiscal years.

"The once-larger federal offshore volumes have declined every year through fiscal 2013, down 74% from 2003," the EIA report said.

Conversely, natural gas plant liquids increased by 11% during the past 10 fiscal years, sparked by a 40% increase over the period in onshore liquids production. Coal in the past five fiscal years of highs and lows has averaged production at 445 million short tons from federal lands.

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