Record-setting prices paid for federal leases

Two separate parcels of acreage in Mountrail County set record high bids at the Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease sale earlier this week in Billings, Mont., BLM officials said.

Diamond Resources Co. of Williston submitted a record high per-acre bid of $34,000 for a 53.05-acre parcel in Mountrail County.

The company also purchased the highest single-parcel bid at more than $5 million, more specifically $5,049,000, for a 152.18-acre parcel in Mountrail County.

Both parcels are in the southwest part of Mountrail County, according to BLM information. The parcels are in an area northwest of New Town.

“There is no doubt that the oil and gas boom continues in North Dakota with record-setting sales like this for federal leases,” said BLM Montana-Dakota State Director Jamie Connell, in a news release.

The auction of 40 federal leases on Tuesday netted a total of $17.5 million from the sale of a total of 2,260 acres in North Dakota, BLM officials said.

Besides Mountrail County, acreage in the BLM oil and gas lease sale was from several other counties including Bottineau, Divide, Divide/Burke, Williams, McKenzie, Dunn, Golden Valley and Bowman-Harding, S.D.

The BLM Streamlining Act, authored by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and proposed in the House by Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., was signed into law on Dec. 26. Hoeven and Cramer said the new law improves the efficiency of processing federal oil and natural gas permits in North Dakota, making federal leases in the area more attractive as a result.

The BLM oil and gas leases are awarded for a period of 10 years and for as long thereafter as there is production in paying quantities. The revenue from federal oil and gas leases, along with 12.5 percent royalties from the production of those leases, is shared between states and the federal government, according to BLM information.

Kristen Lenhardt, a spokeswoman for the BLM Montana State Office in Billings said about 50 people attended the oil and gas lease sale on Tuesday.

The next BLM auction for the Montana-Dakotas region is set for May 21 at the BLM Montana State Office in Billings.