Bonus bids totaled $3,117,368 at the Bureau of Land Management’s July 31 bi-monthly oil and gas lease auction in Billings, making it the most lucrative sale of 2007.
Two Mountrail County, N.D., tracts tied for the highest total bid of the sale. Montana Oil of Billings and Whiting Oil and Gas of Denver each bid $368,000 for leasing rights on respective 160-acre parcels. The highest per-acre bid was $2,500 from Dennis Meschke of Dickinson, N.D., for a 40-acre parcel also in Mountrail County.
Of the 194 parcels offered, 161 were in Montana and 33 were in North Dakota. All of the North Dakota parcels received bids as did 16 of the Montana offerings.
Oil and gas leasing is driven by consumer demand, and competitive oil and gas lease sales are generally conducted every other month at BLM’s Montana State Office. Receipts from federal oil and gas leases are shared with the state or county where the lands are located. All leases are issued for a 10-year term.
Six Carbon County parcels that received bids were protested prior to the sale. Leases on those parcels will not be issued until the protests are resolved.
All leases come with conditions on oil and gas activities to protect the environment that can include limits on when drilling can occur or restrictions on surface occupancy. Once an operator proposes exploration or development on a BLM-issued lease, further environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act is conducted to determine the site-specific need for various types of impact-limiting or mitigation measures. In addition, many operators routinely use Best Management Practices such as remote monitoring of producing wells to minimize surface impacts.
Less than one percent of the BLM-managed acreage nationally is disturbed by oil and gas activity. To minimize impacts (the “footprint”) on the land, the Forest Service and BLM analyze the potential environmental effects from exploration and development before offering any leases for sale.
Additional information regarding competitive sale lists, detailed results of sales, or the leasing process is available by writing the Bureau of Land Management, 5001 Southgate Dr., Billings, Mont., 59101, by calling (406) 896-5004, or at www.blm.gov/mt