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Oil and gas site on public lands with mountains in the background. BLM photo.

About The BLM Oil and Gas Program

Americans enjoy a quality of life today that depends largely upon a stable and abundant supply of affordable energy. The Federal energy portfolio managed by the BLM includes oil and gas, coal, oil shale and tar sands and increasingly, renewable sources of energy such as wind, solar and geothermal.

Oil and gas from public and Indian lands are significant part of this energy mix, providing 11 percent of the natural gas and 7 percent of the oil used in the U.S. during Fiscal Year 2015.

The BLM manages the Federal government’s onshore mineral estate – about 700 million acres held by the BLM, U.S. Forest Service and other Federal agencies and other surface owners -- for the benefit of the American public.  It also manages some aspects of the oil and gas development for Indian tribes.

But not every acre of that land is being developed for energy.  About 32 million acres are under lease to oil and gas developers at the end of Fiscal Year 2015.  Of that, about 12.8 million acres are producing oil and gas in economic quantities.  This activity came from 23,770 producing oil and gas leases and approximately 100,000 wells.

While the program spent about $138 million appropriated from Congress in FY 2015, it generated more than $2.24 billion in royalties, rental payments and  bonus bids, all of which were split between the U.S. Treasury and the states where the development occurred.

Laws and Regulations

The BLM’s authority to manage the public’s oil and gas resources in the 48 contiguous states comes from two laws -- Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, as amended, and the Mineral Leasing Act of 1947, as amended. Leasing authority in Alaska comes largely from the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act of 1976. Regulations derived from these statues and from the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) are located in Title 43 of the Code of Federal Regulations, groups 3000 and 3100. The code is a publication that can be found in law libraries, most larger libraries, or government depository libraries and an electronic version is available from the Government Printing Office.  

While the BLM provides technical assistance to Indian tribes and Indian mineral owners, the BLM does not lease Indian minerals.  Mineral leasing on tribal lands is governed by Indian Mineral Leasing Act of 1938.

When leasing minerals under U.S. Forest Service management, another statue comes applies. Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act of 1987 (FOOGLRA), which grants the Forest Service the authority to make decisions and implement regulations concerning the leasing of public domain minerals.

The BLM works to ensure that development of mineral resources is conducted in an environmentally responsible manner.

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Regional Information

Read regional information about the BLM's oil and gas activities.