BLM launches EIS on existing White River National Forest leases

The US Bureau of Land Management initiated an environmental impact statement on 65 existing oil and gas leases in Colorado’s White River National Forest. The move came after the US Department of the Interior’s Board of Land Appeals identified National Environmental Policy Act deficiencies in the leases.

BLM’s Colorado River Valley Field Office announced in an Apr. 2 Federal Register notice that it is beginning a 30-day public comment scoping period which will include open house meetings Apr. 15 in Glenwood Springs, Apr. 16 in Carbondale, and Apr. 17 in Aspen. Written comments must be submitted by May 6.

“Scoping comments that are specific to this area and these existing leases will be the most effective as we draft the alternatives we will analyze in the EIS,” said Steve Bennett, the field office’s manager. “Public involvement is a critical piece of this analysis and we will consider a wide range of alternatives, which will be made available for public review and comment when drafted.”

BLM expects to release a draft of the EIS and alternatives for public review in early 2015, he indicated. As a result of this EIS, the agency said it could cancel the existing leases, modify their terms and conditions, or keep the existing terms and conditions in place.

It also extended lease suspensions for 25 tracts in the Thompson Divide area west of Carbondale through Apr. 1, 2016, because they will be included in the EIS. SG Interests holds 18 of the leases and Ursa Resources Group holds seven. Both independent producers are based in Houston.

NEPA deficiencies found

BLM said it is conducting the EIS to address deficiencies in the 65 leases’ environmental analysis. DOI’s land appeals board ruled in 2007 that before including any White River National Forest tracts in a lease sale, BLM must either formally adopt the US Forest Service’s analysis or perform its own. It has decided to take the latter course through this EIS.

The Western Energy Alliance and West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association (WSCOGA) jointly applauded BLM’s decision to extend SG and Ursa’s Thompson Divide leases.

The agency has prevented development of the holdings “for various bureaucratic reasons such as extended unitization determinations, lengthy and redundant NEPA analysis, and failure to approve units and permits to drill,” the trade associations said in a Mar. 31 statement. “Today, BLM correctly recognized its role in delaying development on the leases and wisely granted an extension.”

BLM said Ursa submitted its first development proposal in 2009, followed by a request to unitize its seven leases in 2012. SG Interests first submitted a unitization proposal in 2011, followed by development proposals in 2012, the agency added.

Two Carbondale environmental groups, the Thompson Divide Coalition and Wilderness Workshop, oppose oil and gas activity in the more than 220,000-acre Thompson Divide. They say its wildlife habitat, historic range land, recreational, and headwaters of 15 watersheds are of greater value.

Withdrawal bill introduced

US Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) introduced S. 651, the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act, on Mar. 22, 2013. It would prohibit further oil and gas leasing there and give existing leaseholders to donate, voluntarily exchange, or otherwise relinquish their tracts. Colorado’s other US senator, Mark Udall (D), became a cosponsor on Oct. 31, 2013.

WEA and WCOGA said they strongly disagree with the bill and the groups’ premise that Thompson Divide oil and gas activity is incompatible with the other uses.

“Oil and natural gas companies conduct operations in a responsible manner that protects the environment and the land while providing affordable, reliable energy to America,” said Kathleen Sgamma, WEA’s vice-president of government and public affairs, adding, “Companies reclaim land so successfully that areas with prior and even active production are regularly proposed for wilderness protection. We see this pattern repeated all over the West.”

She said, “Small businesses invest millions of dollars trying to provide energy to the American people, only to have the federal government prevent them from obtaining a return on their investment.”

WSCOGA Executive Director David Ludlam, meanwhile, observed, “The extension is an important symbol that the BLM recognizes the importance and sanctity of contracts and that agricultural interests, timber harvesters and oil and gas companies will only have confidence to invest in our public lands when their federal business partners act and operate in good faith.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

Shell cuts $15 billion in spending for 2015-17

01/30/2015 Royal Dutch Shell PLC has curtailed more than $15 billion in potential spending over the next 3 years, but is not “not overreacting to current low ...

Victoria extends drilling, fracing ban

01/30/2015 The new Victorian Labor government of premier Daniel Andrews has extended the coal seam gas (CSG) exploration and hydraulic fracturing ban in the s...

Chevron’s $35 billion capital budget down 13% from last year

01/30/2015 Chevron Corp. will allocate $35 billion in its capital and exploratory investment program for 2015, including $4 billion of planned expenditures by...

US Senate passes bill approving Keystone XL pipeline project

01/30/2015 The US Senate has passed a bill approving construction of the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline by a 62-36 vote after 3 weeks of debate. Nine...

Oxy cuts capital budget by a third

01/30/2015 In the midst of falling oil prices, Occidental Petroleum Corp., Houston, expects to reduce its total capital spending for 2015 to $5.8 billion from...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX natural gas prices drop after storage report

01/30/2015 US natural gas closed at its lowest price in more than 2 years on the New York market Jan. 29 following the government’s weekly gas storage report,...

Pennsylvania governor reinstates state forest drilling moratorium

01/29/2015 Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed an executive order fully reinstating a 2010 moratorium on new oil and gas leases in state forests and parks. ...

PwC: Low oil prices might drive surge in restructuring in 2015

01/29/2015 Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the oil and gas industry hit 10-year highs in terms of deal value and volume in 2014, according to a report f...

DOE could meet 45-day LNG export decision deadline, Senate panel told

01/29/2015 The US Department of Energy would have no trouble meeting a 45-day deadline to reach a national interest determination for proposed LNG export faci...
White Papers

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

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...
Available Webcasts


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

When Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST


Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


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