The United States Bureau of Land Management's latest quarterly oil and gas lease sale in Utah netted $15 million dollars.
The federal agency offered 255 parcels encompassing 334,400 acres at the latest quarterly auction, indicated the Utah BLM office.
The BLM sold 186 parcels encompassing 215,100 acres of public lands in Utah at the competitive auction.
Seventy bidders registered for the auction. The most spirited bidding was seen in lands under the jurisdiction by the BLM's Price and Vernal field offices.
A parcel in Duchesne County commanded the high bid of slightly more than $1 million> The $1,050 per acre for a 1,000 acre parcel was submitted by Lonetree Energy and Associates of Denver, Colo.
The average bid at the sale was $70 an acre. Bidding on parcels in southeastern Utah were also higher than in previous sales.
"Market demand is driving interest in developing additional oil and gas reserves in Utah. While production from existing wells is on the decline, leasing and exploration is essential to maintain production levels," pointed out Utah BLM deputy director of lands and minerals Kent Hoffman.
Currently, Utah is a net exporter of natural gas; however, the state must rely on outside resources to meet crude oil demands, explained the federal agency.
Leasing of public lands enables the exploration and discovery of new reserves.
Once the rights to the mineral resources are secured, companies will do exploratory studies to determine if oil and gas development is viable.
If development occurs, BLM reviews all proposals to ensure that impacts to other resources are mitigated as much as possible and all environmental laws are followed.
Federal mineral lease sales conducted in Utah during the last two years have ranged from $3 million to $13.5 million.
BLM Utah conducts quarterly auctions in accordance with the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act and the Mineral Leasing Act.
The parcels are comprised of lands that have been determined to be open for leasing through BLM's land use planning process. The parcels are nominated or requested by the public.
One-half of the royalties from mineral development and leasing goes back to the states.
The BLM, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, manages more land at 261 million surface acres than any federal agency.
The majority of the public land managed by the BLM is located in 12 western states, including Alaska.