Report: Sharp Decline in Demand for Oil & Gas Leasing on Federal Lands

Oil and Gas Photo by BLM Wyoming (CC BY 2.0)

Rocky Mountain Wild’s new report shows oil and gas companies currently hold leases on more than 20 million acres of federal land in the Mountain West, and data trends show a sharp decline in interest for additional leases in many states for 2020 and 2021 compared to previous years. The report is supplemented by an interactive map that shows federal oil and gas leases/

The report, using publicly available data from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), analyzes leasing trends in states with the most federal oil and gas leases, including Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. State-by-state breakdowns are included.

Overall, the report shows that of the 20 million acres currently leased on federal lands in those states, more than 11 million acres of that land is not currently being developed, despite much of these lands having “moderate to high potential” for energy development.

On January 27, 2021, President Joe Biden announced a pause on new oil and gas leases on federal lands, which contribute almost 25 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions. The leases detailed in the report will not be affected by the president’s actions, therefore oil and gas industry operations will continue during the pause. 

In addition, the report shows a clear decline in interest from the oil and gas industry on new federal leases. This is particularly striking in New Mexico, where federal acreage has attracted intense interest from oil and gas companies in recent years.

New Mexico: 2019 & 2020 Lease Sales vs. Proposed for Sales in 2021

  • 2019: 58,387 acres of leases sold
  • 2020: 70,539 acres of leases sold
  • 2021:   6,665 acres of leases proposed for sale (Q1, Q2, Q3)

Download the report here (pdf format).

View the interactive map of current on-shore federal oil and natural gas leases here.