Drillers transform out for final opportunity to nab federal acreage below Trump

(Reuters) – The Trump administration raised much more than $4 million on Thursday from oil and gasoline firms that turned out for their last possibility to safe federal acreage in advance of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who has pledged to ban new drilling on general public lands.

FILE Photo: Pump jacks operate at sunset in Midland, Texas, U.S., February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Picture/File Image

The auction of U.S. Bureau of Land Administration (BLM) oil and gas leases in four states captivated extra industry fascination than the latest federal product sales, but selling prices were being continue to much down below what they were prior to the coronavirus pandemic weakened power selling prices and depressed gas desire.

Most of the 6,851 acres (2,773 hectares) presented in the auction had been in New Mexico, overlaying sections of the sprawling Permian Basin. The ordinary bid for New Mexico acreage was $656, significantly underneath the around $5,000 for each acre product sales in the point out were being averaging in advance of the onset of the health disaster.

Bidding at federal drilling auctions, a important aspect of Republican President Donald Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda to maximize domestic generation of fossil fuels, weakened substantially this yr owing to the financial consequences of the coronavirus and the prospects of a new U.S. president eager to struggle climate modify.

Biden, a Democrat, has explained he would halt new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters, but he has not laid out a process or timeline for realizing that objective.

Typical rates compensated at the sale represented an enhancement from New Mexico auctions in August and Oct of last calendar year, but it however drew criticism from environmental and taxpayer teams who have explained that holding oil and gas lease sales in the center of a pandemic was not producing suitable returns.

“This lease sale was a remaining parting gift to oil and gas speculators from a routine that has, for the past four many years, catered to their each whim,” David Jenkins, president of Conservatives for Dependable Stewardship, stated in a assertion.

The BLM reported it is “required by regulation to keep quarterly lease income.”

The sale included three parcels in Oklahoma and just one each in Kansas and Texas.

The maximum bid was additional than $1.2 million from PBEX LLC of Midland, Texas for an 80-acre (32-hectare) parcel in Lea County, New Mexico.

Reporting by Nichola Groom editing by David Gregorio, Dan Grebler and Jonathan Oatis