The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has put up for lease 195,732 acres of public land in Nevada for oil and gas development, sparking anger among environmentalists who had been protesting the plans for a while.
The lease sale, according to the BLM, resulted in competitive bids for 5,760 of the 195,000 acres, bringing in $38,650. According to the website, “BLM Nevada holds oil and gas lease sales four times per year, as required by the Mineral Leasing Act, when eligible lands are available for leasing”.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the BLM had ignored the protests against the opening up of the public land in Nevada to fracking, and its decision will now start a 30-day process during which conservation groups can appeal it at the Interior Board of Land Appeals.
The Center said in a press release about the auction that leasing the land to oil and gas companies will be particularly risky for aquifers in northern Nevada, where the land to be leased is for wildlife—particularly the sage grouse—that depends on those aquifers. The CBD also claims that the resource management plan for the Battle Mountain District in northern Nevada is outdated, preceding the fracking revolution, and needed to be updated.
Conservation groups are accusing the BLM of not addressing these potential risks adequately and not having sufficiently stringent requirements for oil and gas companies. The CBD also quoted the chairman of a local chapter of the Sierra Club as saying that Nevada had no future as an oil and gas producing state. “Oil and gas leasing in Nevada is nearly a futile exercise. With miniscule production in the past and even today, Nevada has no sizable oil and gas industry,” David von Seggern.
Nevada oil and gas leases encompassed 1.1 million acres in 2016, but there were only 29 leases on Nevada federal lands that were producing last year, and no wells were spud during 2016, according to data from the BLM.
According to geologist Alan Chamberlain, Nevada could be home to more than a billion barrels of oil contained in the eastern Great basin, which it shares with Utah.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.