Colorado drilling rights sale sets state record |

Colorado drilling rights sale sets state record

Summit County, CO Colorado

GOLDEN ” A controversial auction of federal oil and gas leases on Colorado’s Roan Plateau on Wednesday set a state record for revenue, generating at least $114 million.

The federal Bureau of Land Management said the preliminary sales figure is the highest ever for the agency’s Colorado office. The estimate doesn’t include one-time rental payments of $125 an acre.

The BLM sold drilling rights on 31 parcels covering more than 55,000 acres on the gas-rich landmark in western Colorado.

The energy industry says the sale was long overdue. Environmentalists call it a travesty, saying drilling could damage a mecca for wildlife, hunting and angling.

A 2,100-acre parcel drew the highest offer at $11,800 per acre, the second-highest bid ever made on federal land in Colorado. The highest was $26,000 an acre last November near the Roan Plateau.

The state and federal governments will each get 49 percent of the revenue, with the remaining 2 percent covering administrative costs.

Gov. Bill Ritter and some members of Colorado’s congressional delegation argued that a plan proposed by the governor, but rejected by the BLM, would have raised even more money.

Ritter’s plan would have delayed some of the sales. He and others said prices might have gone higher with a delayed sale because of rising demand.

Buyers had to pay up after the auction, but no leases likely will be issued for several months because of thousands of protests that have been filed.

“This is a very sad day,” said Suzanne O’Neill of the Colorado Wildlife Federation. “What we had today was instant leasing with deficient protections.”

BLM spokesman David Boyd said the sale has been “very challenging.”

“Certainly this has been very controversial,” he said.

The BLM began working on a management plan for the Roan in the late 1990s.

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