drilling rig file photo

A drilling rig in western North Dakota.

The Biden administration held its first oil and gas lease sale after a court order forced them them to lift a moratorium on new lease sales. The sale was in the Gulf of Mexico and generated $191 million with 33 companies vying to purchase 308 tracts.

Exxon Mobile bought about one-third of the acreage in shallow areas that will be well-suited to carbon sequestration.

The sale does not mean oil and gas lease sales are really moving yet, however. North Dakota is not likely to have any lease sales in 2021. While the Biden administration has said it will comply with the court order requiring them to resume sales, it has been slow-walking the process in the region.

Neither the state’s first or second-quarter sales, which were put in the queue by the previous administration, have been scheduled yet. Instead, the Montana-Dakota’s office of the Bureau of Land Management has asked for public feedback on the parcels that were in the cancelled first and second-quarter sales.

A media release from the Montana-Dakota office said they would then schedule another review after that, before finally posting a notice of competitive lease sale later this year.

That suggests it is unlikely there will be any oil and gas lease sales in the region in 2021, and in fact, that is what state officials have said they were told.

In a media release, BLM justified the additional public scrutiny by saying they will “continue to exercise the authority and discretion provided under law to conduct leasing in a manner that fulfills Interior’s legal responsibilities” and said they will proceed with oil and gas leasing sales in “compliance with agency policy in Instruction Memorandum 2021-027 and all applicable laws and regulations.”

North Dakota, meanwhile, has asked a judge to set a deadline for the Bureau of Land Management to resume the state’s cancelled oil and gas lease sales. North Dakota has already lost more than $82 million in revenue because of its cancelled sales, and stands to lose millions more if there are more cancellations.

North Dakota has many “split” estates, where private minerals are entangled with federal. At least 30 percent of the state’s spacing units contain federal minerals and cannot be operated until a lease sale has been held for the federal portion of the land.

Marathon, Continental sponsor resource fair

Two energy companies have teamed up to help provide resources and support for Bismarck-area children and families in need through the holidays.

Marathon Petroleum and Continental Resources are helping to sponsor the first Inaugural Bismarck zMetro Community Resource Fair in Bismarck from 3 to 7 p.m. Nov. 30 at Bismarck Event Center, located at 315 S. Fifth St. in Bismarck.

The event, hosted by NATIVE Community Development, will include many resources for families, including 500 free brand new coats and 500 free athletic-style shoes provided by Operation Warm. Sanford Health will also provide a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for eligible children and parents.

Many other community partners will also be on hadn’t with information and resources.

NATIVE Inc. exists to help Native Americans and others struggling with housing or other issues like behavioral health care. In urban areas.

EPA awards funding to North Dakota DEQ

The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality has been awarded $634,023 from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The funds will be used for delegated program activities, as well as quality assurance, and maintenance of regional and national databases.

North Dakota’s DEQ enforces regulations to maintain clean air and water and that govern the handling of hazardous and solid wastes. They are also responsible for underground storage tanks, radon, and other environmental health-related areas.

Meetings & more

Public comment period for renewal of air pollution control permits for Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s Pioneer Generation Station in Williams County. Ends Friday, December 31, 2021. Online at https://deq.nd.gov/AQ/PublicCom.aspx#PGS.

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