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United States Department of the Interior
Montana State Office
5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, Montana 59101-4669

February 10, 2009

3160 (MT9220.WL) P
Instruction Memorandum No. MT-2009-028
Expires: 9/30/2010
To:             Field Managers
From:         State Director
Subject:     Processing of Pending Applications for Permit to Drill (APDs)               DD: 6/16/09
Program Area: Fluid Minerals Operations
Purpose: The purpose of this Instruction Memorandum (IM) is to reiterate some of the processing policies contained in Onshore Oil and Gas Order Number 1 (Order No. 1) and to emphasize the timely processing and tracking of APDs. This IM primarily applies to the Miles City Field Office (MCFO), North Dakota Field Office (NDFO), and the Great Falls Field Station (GFFS).
Policy/Action: Section III.E.2. of Order No. 1 establishes the timeframes for processing APDs. The timeframes apply to both individual APDs and to multiple APDs included in Master Development Plans and to leases of Indian minerals as well as leases of Federal minerals. Within 10 days of receiving an application, the BLM will notify the operator as to whether or not the application is complete. The BLM will request additional information and correction of any material submitted, if necessary, in the 10-day notification. This section of Order No. 1 goes on to state that the operator has 45 days after receiving notice from the BLM to provide any additional information necessary to complete the APD, or the APD may be returned to the operator.
The APD processing is tracked using the Automated Fluid Minerals Support System (AFMSS). A recent review of available reports from AFMSS (APD.12 Report) shows that each office has numerous APDs that are over 45 days old and incomplete. Several of these are many years old.
While it is not always in the best interest of the BLM to immediately return every incomplete APD after 45 days, it is in the best interest of the BLM to track and monitor these incomplete APDs. Offices are instructed to pull the APD.12 Report from AFMSS and to follow-up on the APDs identified on the report. If an operator has no intention of drilling the well, the APD should be returned to the operator. If an operator indicates that they still intend to drill the well, the deficiencies identified in the 10-day notification letter should be reiterated and a reasonable timeframe established for the operator to correct the deficiencies. If the deficiencies are notcorrected within the timeframe established, the APD should be returned to the operator. Once this initial review is complete, offices should continue to periodically pull the APD.12 Report and follow-up on the APDs identified.
Offices are also instructed to periodically pull the APD.13 Report from AFMSS which lists the APDs over 30 days old and still awaiting disposition. Many of the APDs on this report will be the same as identified on the APD.12 Report, but there may be APDs which are considered complete but are still awaiting disposition. Offices should ensure that progress is being made on the processing of these APDs.
It is recognized that there may be extenuating circumstances regarding certain APDs that prevent the timely correction of deficiencies and/or the timely processing of the APD. It is not the intent of this IM to force the return of those APDs.
Timeframe: This IM is effective immediately. The Montana State Office will rerun the AFMSS reports around June 16, 2009, to ensure progress has been made.
Budget Impact: The budget impact is anticipated to be minimal. Timely processing of APDs and the elimination of a perceived backlog of APDs could have a positive impact on future budget allocations.
Background: The timely processing of APDs remains a high priority. The Washington Office is still requiring biweekly reports from the NDFO and GFFS and is pulling biweekly reports for the MCFO which show APD workload and processing progress. This information is periodically shared with the Executive Leadership Team.  The current reports show a large number of pending APDs. 
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: None
Coordination: This guidance was coordinated with the affected Field Offices and the Branch of Fluid Minerals.
Contact: Please direct any questions to Will Lambert at (406) 896-5328.
Signed by: Gene R. Terland
Authenticated by: Kathy Ray (MT-922)
cc: SOMT
       Supervisor, Great Falls Field Station

Last updated: 02-28-2013