Oil, gas leasing on federal land to resume in first quarter

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

BISMARCK, N.D., Jan. 4 (AP) – Oil and gas leasing on federal land is expected to resume early this year in North Dakota and Montana after the Biden administration halted the process nationwide last year.

The federal Bureau of Land Management is planning a lease sale for the first quarter of 2022, but has not finalized details. There are 6,850 federally owned mineral acres available in western North Dakota and eastern Montana, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Oil and gas companies will bid to secure the leases and those that are successful will have a 10-year window to get a federal permit to drill.

President Joe Biden halted the leasing process after he took office last January when he issued an executive order announcing a review of the program ``to restore balance on America’s public lands and waters to benefit current and future generations.’’

Oil- and gas-producing states, including North Dakota and Montana, sued to try to force leasing to continue and were successful last June when a court order required the federal government to resume the sales.

North Dakota has filed a separate legal challenge with a hearing scheduled for Jan. 12 at the federal courthouse in Bismarck.

“We have every reason to believe they will continue to hold those lease sales as they’re directed to” by federal law, said Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources. “But we’re going to continue with our court case to make sure that happens.”