A closer look at BLM's 'hastily approved' Utah resource management plans

Environmental organizations opposing the US Bureau of Land Management's latest Utah oil and gas lease sale were elated when a federal district court judge on Jan. 17 issued a temporary restraining order preventing BLM from moving forward with the leases.

The ruling by Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of the US District Court for Washington, DC, will keep the US Department of the Interior agency from cashing checks issued for contested tracts until the merits of their Dec. 17 lawsuit can be argued, the groups said in a joint press release.

They reiterated charges that acreage near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Dinosaur National Monument and Nine-Mile Canyon in eastern Utah was included in the Dec. 18 lease sale after Utah's BLM state office hastily approved resource management plans for 3 million acres of public land.

"Under the Bush administration, [BLM] pushed through [RMPs] that treated some of America's most sensitive and spectacular public lands as the private playgrounds of the oil and gas companies," said Bill Hedden, executive director of the Grand Canyon Trust.

'No corners were cut'

That idea doesn't square with what Utah BLM employees told me several days before Urbina issued his temporary restraining order. "Every plan followed a full process. No corners were cut. Some of these plans took 7-8 years to complete, while others took 4-5 years, the more typical arc," said Don Ogaard, BLM's state planning leader in Utah.

RMPs contain broad goals, objectives, and management prescriptions and goals, he told me during a Jan. 12 telephone interview. "They cover the complete range of resources and uses," he said.

They also follow the multiple use concept mandated in the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act under which activities are supposed to co-exist to the greatest extent possible, Ogaard continued.

"Under the new plans, most of the new areas opened to oil and gas leasing would carry some form of protective stipulation. Many leases will carry stipulations with respect to seasonally important wildlife habitat. Only about 35% of the land would be open to leasing under the standard terms and conditions," he continued.

Some key differences

A look at BLM's Utah website shows the differences between the old and new RMPs. Acreage available for oil and gas leasing was reduced by about 100,000 acres. Land available for leasing under standard terms dropped from nearly 5.2 million acres to 3.6 million acres, while land available for leasing subject to controlled surface use or timing stipulations rose from 3 million to 4 million acres.

"Certain leases, less than 10%, are issued under no surface occupancy requirements. Producers would have to drill horizontally or directionally from off the leasehold," Ogaard said. Acreage for leasing under such stipulations nearly doubled from 464,166 acres in the old plans to 890,277 acres in the new ones. Land unavailable for oil and gas leasing rose from nearly 1.9 million acres to more than 2.1 million acres.

"We're always glad to address perceptions that vast new areas are being opened to drilling or that we're conducting fire sales. Virtually all the land that is being opened to leasing under new plans was opened previously under old plans. The difference is that the new RMPs put better plans in place," Ogaard said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

Related Articles

Politics of abundance

08/24/2015 Attention returns to the antique US ban on exports of crude oil with reports that limited shipments to Mexico have been approved. The oil and gas i...

AWE upgrades reserves estimates for Perth basin field

08/21/2015 AWE Ltd., Sydney, reported initial 2P reserves and upgraded 2C contingent resource estimates for its onshore Perth basin Waitsia gas field in the l...

Israel's gas squabble

08/17/2015 Watching a country squabble its endowment of hydrocarbons into developmental stalemate warms few hearts in the international oil and gas industry.

Clinton's energy goals point toward economic hazard

08/10/2015

If Hillary Clinton becomes president of the United States and implements the energy policy she's now describing, she won't win a second term.

ConocoPhillips plans further capex reduction for deepwater exploration

07/27/2015 ConocoPhillips reported plans to further reduce its capital expenditures for deepwater exploration, with the "most significant reductions"...

Michigan DEQ report urges ban of heavy oils in Mackinac Straits pipeline

07/27/2015 Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality's Petroleum Pipeline Task Force issued a report that recommended that heavy crude and oil sands be k...

Total unveils development sites for renamed Papua LNG project

07/13/2015 Total SA and its joint venture partners Oil Search Ltd. and InterOil Corp. have announced key infrastructure sites for development of the proposed ...

Moody's: Macondo settlement seen 'positive' for BP

07/13/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc.'s recent agreement to settle federal and state claims related to the 2010 Macondo blowout and spill improves t...

BP to settle federal, state Deepwater Horizon claims for $18.7 billion

07/13/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc. has agreed in principle to settle all federal and state claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon inciden...
White Papers

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

When Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Taking the Headache out of Fuel License and Exemption Certificates: How to Ensure Compliance

Tue, Aug 25, 2015

This webinar, brought to you by Avalara, will detail the challenges of tax document management, as well as recommend solutions for fuel suppliers. You will learn:

-    Why it’s critical to track business partner licenses and exemption documents
-    The four key business challenges of ensuring tax compliance through document management
-    Best practice business processes to minimize exposure to tax errors

register:WEBCAST


Driving Growth and Efficiency with Deep Insights into Operational Data

Wed, Aug 19, 2015

Capitalizing on today’s momentum in Oil & Gas requires operational excellence based on a clear view of what your business data is telling you. Which is why nearly half* of oil and gas companies have deployed SAP HANA or have it on their roadmap.

Join SAP and Red Hat to learn more about using data to drive process improvements and identify new opportunities with the SAP HANA platform running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This webinar will also show how your choice of infrastructure impacts the performance of core business applications and your ability to achieve data-driven insights quickly and reliably.

*48% use SAP, http://go.sap.com/solution/industry/oil-gas.html

register:WEBCAST


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected