BLM extends comment periods for proposed changes in onshore orders

The US Bureau of Land Management extended the comment period for three proposed rulemakings that would replace or revise significant federal onshore oil and gas regulations. Comments on proposals that would affect Onshore Oil and Gas Orders 3, 4, and 5 now will be accepted until Dec. 14, it said in a Nov. 23 Federal Register notice.

BLM also scheduled public meetings on the proposal in Durango, Colo., on Dec. 1; Oklahoma City on Dec. 3; and Dickinson, ND, on Dec. 5. The US Department of the Interior agency held similar public meetings in 2013 and received valuable stakeholder input in drafting the proposed rules, Director Neil Kornze said.

The rulemakings are under way because the orders were put in place in 1989 and have not been updated since, BLM said. Consequently, they do not reflect modern measurement techniques, it stated.

The agency said the proposals reflect advances in technology as well as critical updates in industry standards and practices. They also respond directly to concerns which the Government Accountability Office, DOIs Office of Inspector General, and the Interior Secretary’s Subcommittee on Royalty Management expressed, it said.

One proposal dealing with site security would replace Order 3, which establishes standards to ensure that oil and gas are properly and securely handled to prevent theft and loss and to enable accurate measurement and production accountability, BLM said.

A second proposal would revise Onshore Order 4, covering oil production measurement, while the third proposal would revise Onshore Order 5, dealing with natural gas production measurement.

Accurate measurements help assure that proper royalties are paid on oil and gas produced from onshore federal leases, BLM noted. It said payments are split between the US Treasury and the states in which production occurs, except for production on Indian land where tribes and individual Indian allotment owners receive 100% of the royalties.

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