Public lands are generally open to leasing for oil and gas and other applicable minerals under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920. BLM’s St. George Field Office Resource Management Plan (1999) lays out four categories of leasing as they are applied to public lands in the field office:
1. open to leasing subject to standard stipulations,
2. open to leasing subject to special stipulations,
3. open to leasing under No Surface Occupancy,
4. closed to leasing.
Public lands within incorporated city limits and designated wilderness areas are not open to leasing by operation of law. Public lands within the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve are closed to leasing through a mineral withdrawal implemented on August 10, 2000 under Public Land Order 7460.
Oil and gas lease sales are conducted by BLM’s Utah State Office in Salt Lake City. Quarterly sales are required by the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Reform Act of 1987. Interested parties and industry representatives typically nominate public land tracts in writing, although BLM may put tracts up for sale at its own initiative. After BLM conducts appropriate field reviews and compliance under the National Environmental Policy Act, suitable parcels may be offered at competitive auction. Utah BLM traditionally conducts lease sales in February, May, August, and November of each year. Parcels that are not sold at auction remain available under non-competitive rules for a period of two years. Leases sold competitively or non- competitively are issued for a primary term of 10 years. During the leasing process, BLM collects revenues from bonus bids paid at competitive auctions and yearly lease rentals. Should leases go into production, BLM collects royalties, fifty percent of which are shared with the State of Utah with eventual distribution going to Utah counties. Leases are automatically extended as long as they stay in production. Rules governing the leasing of public lands for fluid minerals are found in Part 3100 of Title 43 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The St. George Field Office is not known to possess any deposits of oil shale, tar sands, potash, sodium, or commercially recoverable reserves of coal, all of which are also leased under the Mineral Leasing Act.
For more information on how to submit nominations or on other aspects of the public oil and gas leasing process in Utah, visit the Utah BLM Energy Program