BLM Extends Thompson Divide Leases
BLM Wisely Overcomes Political Pressure and Recognizes Valid Existing Lease Rights
(DENVER) - Western Energy Alliance and the West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association (WSCOGA) applaud the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for approving extensions to leases held by SG Interests and Ursa Piceance LLC in the Thompson Divide Area of western Colorado. The companies would like to develop natural gas from these leases, but BLM has prevented development for various bureaucratic reasons such as extended unitization determinations, lengthy and redundant National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis, and failure to approve units and permits to drill. Today, BLM correctly recognized its roll in delaying development on the leases and wisely granted an extension.
SG Interests is a small oil and natural gas operator attempting to develop its federal leases in an area south of Glenwood Springs where it holds more than 30,000 acres of federal leases. Today, BLM extended the previously granted lease suspensions covering 18 parcels totaling 21,167 acres of SG’s leases located primarily in Pitkin County, Colo.
Ursa Piceance LLC is a privately held oil and gas operator with offices in Rifle and Denver that is currently drilling wells in Garfield County of the Piceance Basin. Its leases in the Thompson Divide Area consist of approximately 12,000 acres, the majority of which are in Garfield County. Its proposed Wolf Springs Unit in Mesa County is awaiting approval from the U.S. Forest Service and BLM. Later this year, Ursa will be drilling four wells in its Castle Springs Unit area on BLM leases, just one Township and Range over from its proposed Wolf Springs Unit location.
SG Interests’ and Ursa’s leases have been held up for years under political pressure from the Thompson Divide Coalition (TDC) and Wilderness Workshop environmental groups. TDC has been advocating to withdraw the leases in the Thompson Divide. Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall have co-sponsored the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act, which attempts to withdraw future leases and buy back existing ones.
Western Energy Alliance and WSCOGA strongly oppose TDC’s actions and the bill, which are based on the false premise that oil and natural gas cannot coexist with communities, recreation, agriculture and other uses.
“Oil and natural gas companies conduct operations in a responsible manner that protects the environment and the land while providing affordable, reliable energy to America,” said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs for the Alliance. “Companies reclaim land so successfully that areas with prior and even active production are regularly proposed for wilderness protection.
“We see this pattern repeated all over the West. Small businesses invest millions of dollars trying to provide energy to the American people, only to have the federal government prevent them from obtaining a return on their investment.”
“The extension is an important symbol that the BLM recognizes the importance and sanctity of contracts and that agricultural interests, timber harvesters and oil and gas companies will only have confidence to invest in our public lands when their federal business partners act and operate in good faith,” concluded David Ludlam, executive director of the WSCOGA.
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About Western Energy Alliance
Western Energy Alliance, founded in 1974 as the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, is a non-profit trade association representing more than 480 companies engaged in all aspects of environmentally responsible exploration and production of oil and natural gas in the West. More information about Western Energy Alliance is available at www.westernenergyalliance.org.
The membership of West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association are committed to enhancing oil and gas production in Western Colorado while also enhancing the communities where their members work, live and raise our families. The West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association’s mission is to foster and promote the beneficial, efficient, responsible and environmentally sound development, production and use of Western Colorado oil and natural gas.