The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office in Colorado on Monday released plans to potentially offer in May 2017 up to 100,000 acres for oil and natural gas exploration spread over five counties in the northwestern corner of the state.

The proposed sale would include 20 parcels totaling 27,529 acres in Grand County, 12 parcels (9,155 acres) in Jackson County; four parcels (1,928 acres) in Moffat County, 45 parcels (45,331 acres) in Rio Blanco County, and 25 parcels (17,085 acres) in Routt County.

"BLM lands in this proposed lease sale conform to the 2015 Northwest Colorado Greater Sage Grouse Resource Management Plan Amendment," a BLM spokesperson said.

A public comment period would be held before the proposal is finalized, with an environmental assessment scheduled to be issued in November.

"The most effective comments [from the public] will address issues and concerns specific to the parcels being considered," said BLM’s Joe Meyer, Northwest Colorado District Manager.

The proposal prompted a positive response from the West Slope chapter of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (WSCOGA), which has been critical of BLM in recent months for allegedly reneging on previous leases granted in the state (see Shale DailyJune 20). It cited a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) of the Mancos Shale in the Piceance Basin, which contains an estimated 66 Tcf of natural gas (see Shale Daily, June 16).

"The recent USGS Mancos Shale assessment means the rest of the world is now well aware of Western Colorado's natural gas and oil potential on federally managed lands," said WSCOGA executive director David Ludlam. "Notwithstanding any last minute lease deferrals or shenanigans, we hope to see these energy resources, owned by American taxpayers, become available to long-term investors for both economic and societal good."

Under federal rules, Colorado would receive 49% of the proceeds from each mineral lease sale and from mineral royalties with the rest going to the U.S. government.