BLM Improves Oil & Gas Permit Application Process

As part of its implementation of President Bush's National Energy Policy and to enhance U.S. energy security, the Bureau of Land Management announced fundamental new management strategies aimed at improving the Agency's processing of applications for permits to drill oil and gas. The new approaches advance the President's goal of strengthening America's energy security while giving the BLM, oil and gas producers, and all Americans more effective environmental analyses and less bureaucratic application processing.

"These innovative strategies will update the permit application process while ensuring protection of cultural and other resources on the public lands," said BLM Director Kathleen Clarke. "Overall, the new policies will help implement the National Energy Policy. These important steps move us toward a much improved method of working with our energy partners across the country and ensure a reliable supply of affordable energy for America's families and businesses."

The policies announced today enhance the BLM's efficiency in processing oil and gas Applications for Permits to Drill (APDs) by:

  • Providing for the simultaneous processing and completing of environmental analyses on multiple permit applications with similar characteristics.
  • Implementing a Geographic Area Development Planning approach for an oil and gas field or limited area within a field, designed to meet the BLM's environmental goals while addressing the operator's business needs.
  • Developing Standard Operating Practice Agreements to identify the drilling and surface practices operators will use for an entire oil and gas field or geologic formation.
  • The application of these best environmental practices will improve protection of the environment, reduce paperwork, and eliminate redundancy in project analyses.
  • Allowing, as an alternative to the traditional "linear" approach, a "block" survey of cultural resources to cover larger areas, resulting in a more thorough survey of cultural resources and greater flexibility in planning.
  • Promoting clear and consistent use of Conditions of Approval for permit applications.
  • Revising the Onshore Oil and Gas Order No. 1, the established procedures for completing Federal APDs.
  • Initiating a working group to revise and update a brochure formally known as "Oil and Gas Surface Operating Standards for Oil and Gas Development." The purpose is to help the industry better understand the BLM's surface operating standards.