Trade association: Changing policies curb energy production

Changes in management policies are suppressing oil and natural gas production on federal lands, according to a compilation of government statistics from an energy industry trade group.

“Production of energy on federal lands is not keeping pace with production on private and state lands for one simple reason — federal government policies are suppressing development,” said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs for the Western Energy Alliance. The Denver-based trade association represents 400 companies involved in oil and natural gas production in the Western United States.

The Western Energy Alliance compiles oil and natural gas statistics from  government sources to produce what it calls its Western Oil and Natural Gas Dashboard. Between the 2008 and 2011 fiscal years, natural gas production on federal lands in the West decreased 4 percent even as production on state and private lands increased 29 percent.

Thanks in large part to increased activity in the Bakken formation in North Dakota, oil production on federal lands in the West is up 26 percent. But that’s still less than half the 54 percent increase in oil production on state and private lands.

“Our dashboard enables policymakers, the media and the general public to see the effects of policies that are stalling the production of energy that all Americans own,” Sgamma said.

According to the the alliance, between the 2008 and 2011 fiscal years the Bureau of Land Management offered 81 percent less acreage for oil and natural gas production. That decline in turn resulted in a 44 percent drop in leasing revenue, down from $356 million to $201 million. Nationwide, royalty and leasing revenue declined 12 percent from $4.2 billion to $3.7 billion. 

In Colorado, the BLM issued 97 percent fewer leases, including just four parcels in the 2011 fiscal year. Of those leases that have been offered, 71 percent have been protested.

“Western oil and natural gas development and production generates $51 billion in revenue and employs 229,150 workers across America,” Sgamma said. “Our industry is a force driving the economy not just in the West, but across the entire nation. Unfortunately, the federal government is standing in the way of increasing production of valuable energy resources that could spur further job creation, economic growth and energy security.”