EDGEMONT, S.D. (AP) — Oil and gas leases are set to go up for sale on three parcels of private land in southwestern South Dakota.
Russ Pigors, a physical scientist with the Belle Fourche Bureau of Land Management office, said a lease sale will be held July 12 for the parcels west of Edgemont in Fall River County. The Bureau of Land Management is asking for public comment on what sort of environmental impact there might be in allowing oil and gas exploration on the parcels.
The roughly 720 acres of private land are within the boundaries of the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, the Rapid City Journal reported. Pigors said the public comment process is standard when the Bureau of Land Management does oil and gas leases.
The public comment period ends March 8.
Since mid-2014, oil prices have been dropping, but they rallied sharply earlier this month when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said it’s considering cutting production.
On Feb. 12, the U.S. benchmark for crude oil rose 11.5 percent to $29.13 a barrel, according to reports.
“The price of oil generally reflects the lack of interest in leasing,” Pigors said in a phone interview. “Some years, we have over 100 (leases for sale), and now we have just three.” He pointed out that he was talking about only federal leases; the state and private owners also sell leases.
Since the federal government owns the mineral rights to the parcels of land near Edgemont, and the Bureau of Land Management manages those rights for the federal government, the bureau must conduct public hearings on potential environmental impacts before the properties can be leased. The bureau also is required to conduct either an environmental assessment or a Determination of National Environmental Policy Act Adequacy, in which environmental effects of proposed actions are assessed prior to making decisions, on the potential leases before they can be included in the lease sale.
The parcels are usually “nominated” for mineral leases by oil and gas exploration companies or by private individuals seeking to drill wells, Pigors said.
Often times, the lease sales don’t result in actual oil or gas wells.
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