The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will allow stripper well operators on federal lands to suspend operations without losing their leases.
Interior Sec. Bruce Babbitt said, "This will help to alleviate the economic impact low oil prices may have on small federal stripper oil operations. We understand what the small operators are going through, and this is the right decision at the right time."
BLM said that, in 1997, stripper wells (producing 15 b/d or less) accounted for 32%, or 37.4 million bbl, of oil production on public lands.
The agency's current policy re- quires operators to promptly plug wells that are not producing in paying quantities.
The suspension will...