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Vol. 13, No. 23 Week of June 08, 2008
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

BLM says 60 percent of land off limits

New inventory of estimated oil and gas resources in federal land throughout the U.S. shows impact of inaccessibility for leasing

Alan Bailey

Petroleum News

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has published an updated version of its inventory of oil and gas resources in federal onshore land. BLM says that the latest study has estimated that the federal lands hold 31 billion barrels of oil and 231 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. But the inventory has also found that 60 percent of the onshore federal land that has potential for oil and natural gas production is closed to oil and gas leasing, thus rendering 62 percent of the oil and 41 percent of the gas inaccessible for development.

The inventory report represents the third of a series of studies mandated by Congress to document federal oil and gas resources and limitations on the development of those resources.

“America has abundant energy resources,” said C. Stephen Allred, assistant secretary of the Interior for land and minerals management. “However, for a variety of reasons, many of these resources are not available for development. At a time when energy prices have reached record levels and Americans are feeling the impact, we must find ways to develop those key energy resources that are available to us right here at home on our public lands.”

“Current technology allows us to develop energy resources without adversely impacting the environment or permanently diminishing other non-energy resources found on public lands,” said BLM Director Jim Caswell.

Alaska resources

In Alaska, the inventory considered federal oil and gas resources in northern Alaska, the Yukon Flats and southern Alaska. The northern Alaska region consists predominantly of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The southern region consists of federal land on the Alaska Peninsula, the Kenai Peninsula and the Gulf of Alaska coastal region.

The inventory represents estimates of technically recoverable undiscovered resources and the ultimate reserves growth in existing oil and gas fields.

In northern Alaska, the inventory estimated 17 billion barrels of oil and condensate, and 79 trillion cubic feet of gas in federal lands. The gas estimate includes a 2007 U.S. Geological Survey assessment of coalbed methane.

The inventory also says that almost none of the federal land in northern Alaska is accessible under standard BLM lease terms, in part because of restrictions on when during the year exploration activities can occur. Approximately 70 percent of the land is completely inaccessible for leasing at present, either as a result of land withdrawals or as a result of land use planning decisions.

The inventory estimated 149 million barrels of recoverable oil and condensate and 2.7 tcf of natural gas in federal lands in the Yukon Flats, but 99 percent of that land is inaccessible for oil and gas leasing.

In southern Alaska, 98 percent of the federal land is currently inaccessible for leasing. BLM estimates 270 million barrels of recoverable oil and condensate and 394 billion cubic feet of recoverable gas in this region. The preponderance of the oil is thought to exist on the Kenai Peninsula and in Southeast Alaska. The gas resources appear more widely distributed, although the Kenai Peninsula seems to be the most prospective area.

The inventory report is available on the BLM Web site at www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/energy/oil_and_gas/EPCA_III.html.



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