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

PHMSA proposes pipeline accident notification regulations

07/02/2015 The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has proposed new federal oil and gas pipeline accident and notification regulations. ...

FourPoint Energy to acquire Anadarko basin assets from Chesapeake

07/02/2015 FourPoint Energy LLC, a privately owned Denver company, plans to acquire oil and gas assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. subsidiaries Chesapeake Ex...

Puma Energy completes purchase of Murco’s UK refinery, terminals

07/02/2015 Singapore-based Puma Energy Group Pte. has completed its purchase of UK midstream and downstream assets from Murco Petroleum Ltd., a subsidiary of ...

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

07/02/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc. has agreed in principle to settle all federal and state claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon inciden...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices plummet on crude inventory build, Iran deadline extension

07/02/2015 Oil prices plummeted more than $2/bbl July 1 to settle at a 2-month low on the New York market after a weekly government report showed the first ri...

API to issue recommended practice to address pipeline safety

07/01/2015 The American Petroleum Institute expects to issue a new recommended practice in another few weeks that addresses pipeline safety issues, but the tr...

Shell Midstream Partners takes interest in Poseidon oil pipeline

07/01/2015 Shell Midstream Partners LP has completed its acquisition of 36% equity interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Co. LLC from Equilon Enterprises LLC, a s...

MARKET WATCH: Oil prices decline as US crude inventories post first gain in 9 weeks

07/01/2015 Oil prices on July 1 surrendered much of their gains from the day before after the release of a government report showing the first rise in US crud...

FWS issues Shell letter of authorization on Chukchi Sea lease

07/01/2015 The US Fish & Wildlife Service issued Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. a letter of authorization (LOA) related to the potential disturbance of polar b...
White Papers

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

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

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


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

When 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


Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

When Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


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

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


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