Two parcels up for oil and gas leases in Moffat and Routt counties | CraigDailyPress.com

Two parcels up for oil and gas leases in Moffat and Routt counties

Patrick Kelly

On Monday, the Bureau of Land Management concluded the public comment period on the preliminary environmental assessment for two parcels of land potentially available for oil and gas leases in May 2016.

One parcel in Moffat County totals 172 acres and the other totals 641 acres in Routt County. Both parcels hold federal minerals under privately owned surface.

Despite the potential for two new leases, oil and gas development is still on a downward trend in Northwest Colorado.

Moffat County Department of Natural Resources Director Jeff Comstock said that nationwide oil and gas companies are moving away from mining on federal lands and onto private property due to regulations.

"In Moffat County we've seen that dramatically," he said.

Even when it does not own the surface area, the federal government can make recommendations on how that earth is treated when recovering federal minerals.

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Whenever a parcel is leased, the buyer pays a bonus fee to the mineral owner. BLM leases last 10 years and if a well is installed then royalties will also be collected at rate of 12.5 percent. The royalty rate on privately owned minerals in the county averages 18.75 percent.

"Don't get too enamored thinking because BLM did a press release that this is good news that they've leased those minerals," said Comstock. "To those of us who have watched the economy suffer, it's disgusting that they actually have only done that small amount."

However, Comstock said any oil and gas activity is good for the area's economy and Moffat County will take all it can get.

"I'm glad they were able to get a parcel nominated and hopefully they'll make production from it," he said.

For next phase in the competitive lease process BLM will post a notice of sale and conduct a 30-day protest period beginning Feb. 12, 2016, said David Boyd, press affairs specialist.

"The idea is that we have this process to get fair market value," Boyd said.

The environmental assessment, map of the parcels and the accompanying stipulations are available online at http://on.doi.gov/1Q2vj92 and at the Little Snake Field Office, 455 Emerson St. in Craig.

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