BISMARCK, N.D. — More than 54,000 mineral acres of land were up for lease Tuesday, many of which are on the periphery of areas with much oil and gas production.
State Land Commissioner Lance Gaebe said tracts of land from 13 counties in the western and central part of the state were up for lease during the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands’ quarterly auction.
The auction was held in Medora.
“I’d say there’s a lot of acres on the offering list that are not in the heart of the Bakken,” Gaebe said.
Among them are more than 17,400 mineral acres in Slope County and 13,700 mineral acres in McLean County, neither of which have any active drilling rigs. The drilling rig figures were as of Tuesday from the North Dakota Industrial Commission’s Oil and Gas Division website.
Other counties without any active drilling rigs that had mineral acres auctioned for lease Tuesday were Hettinger, Mercer and Ward counties.
Gaebe noted that there were dozens of tracts of land marked on the department’s list of tracts up for lease that have various stipulations on them. The stipulations include tracts located on sensitive wildlife habitats as well as sites of archaeological or historical significance.
The State Historical Society of North Dakota and the North Dakota Geological Survey review tracts of land prior to sales.
The state Game and Fish Department also has provided the state with recommendations to either restrict or refrain from development of a number of sensitive tracts of land.
“I say it’s generated some questions (in recent auctions) but I wouldn’t say it creates a lack of interest,” Gaebe said.
He said the amount of land up for lease Tuesday in areas with various concerns regarding wildlife and historical significance is on par with most lease sales in the past few years.
What lease holders can and can’t do on tracts of land depends upon who owns the surface acreage, Gaebe said. He said tracts of state-owned land are mixed in with those owned by private landowners. More intrusive development on surface lands owned by private landowners may occur compared to that of those owned by the state, he said.
Gaebe added that the state Board of University and School Lands has “a fiduciary responsibility” to generate revenue from state-owned minerals in a responsible manner.
Information on stipulations for tracts with wildlife and archaeological sites in which the state owns surface acreage can be found at www.land.nd.gov.
Gaebe noted that something that some don’t understand about the land put up for lease is that some trying to protest its lease and development “doesn’t mean it’s not going to be developed. One holdout is not able to prevent an area from being produced.”
He said much of the acreage in counties without production isn’t likely to have development in the near term.