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WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240-0036
December 11, 2012
In Reply Refer To:
3100/1270 (310) P
Instruction Memorandum No. 2013-026
Expires:  09/30/2014 

To:                      State Directors

From:                  Assistant Director, Minerals and Realty Management

Subject:              Confidential Handling of Oil and Gas Informal Expressions of Interest 

Program Area: Oil and Gas Leasing and Freedom of Information Act.

Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) addresses the proper handling of Expressions of   

Policy/Action: All BLM offices must take the appropriate steps to safeguard and protect the confidentiality that is implicit within the Expressions of Interest (EOI) process to prevent the improper release of names of all parties that file an EOI. An EOI is an informal nomination to request certain lands be included in a competitive oil and gas lease sale as allowed under 43 CFR 3120.1-1(e).

Upon receipt of an EOI, all offices must:

  • clearly mark all EOIs as confidential,
  • attach Form 1273-2, Proprietary/Confidential Information to the oil and gas lease sale folder, and
  • protect EOIs from release until 2 days following the conclusion of the competitive oil and gas lease sale to maintain the integrity of the EOI process.  

If the bureau receives a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for an EOI, the office must review the files to ensure that the BLM protects all confidential information from release as appropriate under exemption 4 of the FOIA. For example, the BLM must withhold the names of any EOI submitter (even if the person filing an EOI has not specifically requested it) under exemption 4 until 2 days following the conclusion of the competitive oil and gas lease sale in which the BLM listed the lands.  When withholding materials under exemption 4, the BLM must include the appropriate right to appeal language while citing the reason for the partial denial.

Please provide this IM to all oil and gas lease adjudication personnel, all state and field office FOIA personnel, Information Access Center staff, and other staff that deal with oil and gas lease sale procedures and the handling of informal EOIs.  Also, update all websites that contain information regarding EOIs to include this guidance.

Timeframe: This policy is effective immediately. 

Budget Impact: None.

Background: The BLM issued onshore oil and gas leasing regulations in June 1988 allowing the public to file informal EOIs for lands they desired the BLM to offer for competitive lease sale. Washington Office (WO) IM-1995‑164 provided guidance regarding the protection and appropriate release procedures of EOIs. This updated IM continues the policy of denying the release of EOIs until 2 days following the conclusion of the competitive oil and gas lease sale and provides guidance regarding the identification and marking of EOIs as confidential. In addition, WO-IM-1995-164 directed offices to cite exemptions 4 and 5 of the FOIA in the denial decision. This updated guidance identifies exemption 4 as the appropriate exemption for the denial of  EOIs.

Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: The BLM will incorporate this guidance into Handbook H-3120-1, Competitive Leases, during the next revision, currently anticipated for issuance later in Fiscal Year 2013.

Coordination: The Division of Fluid Minerals (WO-310) prepared this IM in coordination with field adjudication and FOIA personnel. 

Contact: If there are any questions concerning this IM, please contact Michael Nedd, Assistant Director, Mineral and Realty Management at 202-208-4201, or your staff may contact Steven Wells, Division Chief (WO-310), at 202-912-7143 or  s1wells@blm.gov; Atanda Clark, Senior Mineral Leasing Specialist, at 202-912-7156 or aclark@blm.gov; or Teresa Thompson, Mineral Leasing Specialist, at 801-539-4047 or t3thomps@blm.gov.

Signed by:                                                                   Authenticated by:
Michael Nedd                                                               Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                                        Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Minerals and Realty Management

Last updated: 04-15-2013