The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has postponed a lease sale in California that was scheduled for May 22 due to budget constraints, a shift in priorities to inspection and enforcement of existing leases, and processing of new applications for permits to drill. This was the only lease sale that the agency had proposed in the state for the remainder of the fiscal year.
BLM had planned to offer 1,300 acres of public lands near the prolific Monterey Shale play in the May sale. The formation, which extends from northern California down to the Los Angeles area, offshore, is believed to contain about two-thirds of the U.S. estimated shale oil reserves, about 15.4 billion bbl.
The state BLM office "will take another look" at its schedule of lease sales in after Oct. 1, said David Christy, a spokesman for BLM's California State Office.
The BLM withdrew the lease sale after a federal judge found in April that BLM had violated a key environmental law when it leased the drilling rights for other parcels near the Salinas River Valley before performing an environmental review of the impacts on water, wildlife and air quality, the Associated Press reported. Environmentalists brought the lawsuit, alleging that BLM had not properly reviewed the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing and other types of oil and gas development.