Feb. 26, 2015 photo, shows an oil well on the Fort
Berthold Indian Reservation near Mandaree, North
Dakota. U.S. officials announced plans Thursday,
July 28, 2016, to speed up permitting for oil and
gas drilling on federal and American Indian lands to
reduce delays, as applications were projected to be
down amid an ongoing price slump.
Mont. — U.S. officials announced plans Thursday to speed
up permitting for oil and gas drilling on federal and
Indian lands to reduce delays, as applications were
projected to be down 40 percent versus their historical
average amid an ongoing price slump.
energy prices already have curtailed domestic energy
exploration, driving down revenue. That's put a crimp in
budgets for the major energy producing states, including
Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, Alaska, North Dakota and
Montana, which receive a substantial share of revenue from
oil and gas activity on U.S. lands.
attempt to streamline drilling approvals and reduce costs
for companies, U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director
Neil Kornze said all drilling applications would have to
be filed online under the new proposal.
follows years of criticism from the energy sector over the
Obama administration's handling of drilling applications.
Companies say lengthy delays have driven up costs.
permitting would allow 90 percent of drilling applications
to be completed within 115 days, bureau spokeswoman
Beverly Winston said. The average time in 2015 was 220
new system is a big improvement over the current, hard
copy-based application system," Kornze said in a
representatives welcomed the attempt to make permitting
more efficient and said they have worked with Kornze's
agency to fix glitches that emerged in the automated
system in the past few months.
Kathleen Sgamma with the Western Energy Alliance voiced
doubt about the potential time savings. She said the long
time to process permits is driven in part by environmental
studies and other requirements not counted in the
administration's 220-day processing average.
example, she said a drilling application could be filed in
January, but surveys of whatever plants are present at the
site might have to be done during the summer when the
plants are blooming. The intervening months are not
included in the government's processing time estimates,
a bit skeptical that the (automated) system will result in
significant time savings," Sgamma said.
"Generally companies avoid public lands if they can,
because they know there's no certainty on getting through
all the leasing."
uncertain how much the move could stimulate new
exploration, which is driven predominantly by oil and gas
prices that have fallen dramatically over the past two
selling for less than $43 a barrel Thursday on
international markets, versus more than $100 a barrel as
recently as mid-2014.
rents, bonus payments and other government revenue from
oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids topped $12
billion just two years ago.
figure dropped below $9 billion in 2015. Onshore
production from federal lands and American Indian
reservations held under government trust accounted for
about half the amount.