Federal onshore oil and gas leases awarded through competitive auctions have generated substantially higher production volumes and government revenues in recent years than noncompetitive federal leases, according to new analysis by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).


Lease sales are conducted by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), either via auction with parcels awarded to the highest per-acre bidder, or noncompetitively for an administrative fee if an adequate bid is not received. The minimum bid for competitive leases is $2/acre, with any amount offered above that referred to as a bonus bid.

Tracts of land that do not receive a bid are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and referred to as noncompetitive.

GAO researchers...