More than half of federal oil and gas leases idle

May 15, 2012

More than half of the public lands in the continental U.S. that have been leased to oil and gas companies are not actually being drilled, according to a report by the Department of the Interior.

Bruce Hinchey of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming says that’s because there are so many hoops that oil and gas companies have to jump through. He says it often takes over a year to get a permit to drill. And Environmental Impact Statements, which are required for large-scale energy development, take even longer.

“Those used to take about 18 to 24 months,” Hinchey said. “We’re up to eight years and counting right now. So until the BLM and the Department of the Interior decide to reduce the time frame on that, I’m sure there’s going to be lots of idle leases out there.”

Hinchey says that’s why companies prefer drilling on private, rather than public, land first.