BLM figures show steep drop in federal onshore oil, gas leasing

US onshore oil and gas leasing activity fell markedly on federally administered lands during US President Barack Obama’s presidency in several key respects, US Bureau of Land Management statistics indicate.

US onshore oil and gas leasing activity fell markedly on federally administered lands during US President Barack Obama’s presidency in several key respects, US Bureau of Land Management statistics indicate. Differences from Sept. 30, 2008, just before Obama was elected to his first term, to Sept. 30, 2016, near the end of his second term, included declines of 83% in the number of new wells drilled, 78% in new leases, and 67% in permits approved.

“Who needs the ‘keep-it-in-the-ground’ movement when you have the federal government doing the job itself? Every major indicator of oil and natural gas activity on federal lands is down,” noted Kathleen Sgamma, president at the Western Energy Alliance in Denver. “There’s a reason federal production lags far behind private and state lands. The redundant regulation and red tape over the past 8 years have had their intended effects.”

US House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), meanwhile, said, “Production on federal lands was all but impossible under the Obama administration from the layers of additional red tape to the dwindling number of leases offered year after year. These numbers reflect steadfast efforts by the Obama administration to squelch responsible energy development.”

Congressional Republicans will work with US President Donald J. Trump and his team to turn the page and develop a more robust, diverse, and affordable domestic energy supply from federal lands, Bishop said.

Statistics at BLM’s web site show that on federally administered onshore lands during the 8-year period:

• The number of new wells drilled annually fell to 847 from 5,044.

• BLM issued 520 new leases in fiscal 2016, which was 1,896 fewer than it awarded in fiscal 2008.

• Drilling permit approvals dropped 2,184 from 6,617.

• Acreage under lease fell to 27,207,018 from 47,242,495 acres.

• The number of leases in effect went down to 40,143 from 55,085.

• Producing acres, which totaled 14,543,425 at the end of fiscal 2008, fell to 12,771,829 just 8 years later.

• The number of producing leases rose to 23,926 in 2016 from 23,293 in 2008.

“It’s no wonder natural gas production is down on federal lands 15% even as it has increased nationwide by 66%, and the growth of federal oil production at 69% lags far behind nonfederal production, which has skyrocketed 115%,” Sgamma said.

“We hope the new administration will correct the bureaucratic foot-dragging that has stifled responsible development on appropriate public lands and prevented tens of thousands of jobs,” Sgamma said. “We call on the Senate to do its part as well by overturning the redundant BLM venting and flaring rule that usurps EPA and state authority.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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