Drill permits on federal land up this year, says BLM official

The number of drill permits approved on federal lands in northwest Colorado is running ahead of last year’s rate, but there is no guarantee the trend will continue.

“These things can be sporadic,” Joe Meyer, northwest Colorado district manager for the Bureau of Land Management, said Thursday, addressing the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce energy briefing.

The bureau’s northwest district has approved 192 drill permits so far this year, well ahead of the 117 it had issued at the same time in 2014, Meyer said.

In all, the state and federal governments issued 4,190 drill permits in Colorado in 2014. Of that amount, 11 percent were for drilling on federal lands or for federal minerals, which are managed by the BLM, Meyer noted.

In all, the northwest district approved 1,336 drill permits in 2014, 365 of them, or 30 percent, for federal lands or minerals, Meyer noted.

The remaining 70 percent were on state or private lands.

The year-over-year increase in federal permits isn’t attributable to a single cause, Meyer said.

The trend could easily reverse in short order, based on several reasons, from market demands to the difficulty of processing applications, he said.

The BLM on Oct. 1 last year, the first day of the federal fiscal year, consolidated its drill permit approval process in the Colorado River Valley office in Silt, and, “The general sense seems to be that it’s working pretty well,” Meyer said.

Of the 1,336 drill permits the northwest district handled in 2014, 157 of them resulted in new wells, Meyer said.

Across northwest Colorado, the BLM has issued 2,513 leases on 2.3 million acres and more than half of those leases, 57 percent, are producing oil and gas, Meyer said.

The BLM has received no official request that it cease action on a proposed coal lease in the Bookcliffs by Rhino Energy, so the project remains on hold, Meyer said.

Rhino Energy last week announced that it was abandoning the project.


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