BLM to include Roan Plateau in sale of oil, gas leases |

BLM to include Roan Plateau in sale of oil, gas leases

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colo. ” The Bureau of Land Management will offer natural gas leases on the Roan Plateau in its Aug. 14 lease sale.

The announcement came in a opinion piece in The Denver Post written by Stephen Allred, secretary for land and minerals management for the Bureau of Land Management.

“In accordance with the Congress’ mandate, I’ve directed the BLM to offer oil and gas lease rights to the Roan Plateau during the regularly scheduled summer lease sale on Aug. 14,” wrote Allred, referring to 1997 legislation that requires the BLM to develop oil and gas resources on the Roan as soon as “practicable.”

About 55,000 acres are expected to be available for leasing in all of the Roan Plateau area. About 34,750 of those acres are on top of the plateau.

The announcement of Roan acreage being included in the August lease sale comes after years of controversey surrounding the issue.

Several environtmental groups have opposed the BLM’s plan for drilling on the Western Colorado landmark. Recently Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa and Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs introduced legislation that largely followed Gov. Bill Ritter’s proposals for the area.

Those proposals include increasing the acreage for areas of environmental concern ” which are special areas given a higher level of protection ” and implementing phased leasing for the area. Phased leasing means auctioning a set of leases one after another over time.

The BLM’s current plan for the area calls for “phased development,” in which all the parcels would be leased at once, and then the development would be phased over time with one operator working on the ground. The BLM plan’s also designates 38,470 acres as having a no-surface-occupancy stipulation, which means gas companies would have to directionally drill from other areas to extract the natural gas to minimize surface disturbances. However, the BLM can make an exception to the NSO stipulation.

Other protections for the Roan, according to the agency, include spacing well pads at least 1/2 mile apart, with “development to be constrained on existing roads and ridges on top of the plateau.” The BLM plan for the Roan also limits surface disturbance on top of the plateau to 350 acres at any time.

According to the BLM, there is an estimated 9 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas under federal lands in the Roan area, and it is estimated that federal revenue from oil and gas royalties and lease sales could generate $857 million to $1.13 billion over the next 20 years. Colorado would receive an estimated $428 million to $565 million in money generated from oil and gas extraction on the Roan.