Government moves ahead with BLM auctions in 4 states

The federal government’s ignoring calls for oil and gas lease sales in four Western states to be delayed because of the drastic drop in energy prices. Instead, the Bureau of Land Management is going ahead with the sales beginning this week and is offering more than 210,000 acres for leasing.

The Bureau of Land Management sales will be conducted by online auctions in Wyoming, Nevada, Montana and Colorado.

The largest sale is for 105 parcels covering 118,292 acres in Wyoming, the top U.S. state for gas production on federal lands and the second-biggest for oil production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In Nevada, BLM will offer 45 parcels covering 70,110 acres  and in Montana it will auction eight parcels covering 5,180 acres. The Colorado sale is for 20 parcels on 18,960 acres, according to Reuters.

U.S. oil prices have dropped roughly half since the middle of February to about $24 a barrel.

Last week, the United States held an auction for oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico that generated the lowest total of high bids for any domestic offshore auction since 2016. Earlier this month, BLM held a lease sale in Utah that received mostly minimum bids of $2 an acre.

“In this environment, it is impossible for the American taxpayer to expect anywhere near a fair return on oil and gas leases,” Taxpayers for Common Sense, a federal budget watchdog organization, and Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, a non-profit conservation group, said in a joint statement last week.

Department of Interior spokesman Conner Swanson did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. Last week, he said lease sales were “being evaluated on a case-by-case basis.”

Source: Reuters