United States Code
USC most recently checked for updates: Mar 25, 2023
All lands subject to disposition under this chapter which are known or believed to contain oil or gas deposits may be leased by the Secretary.
Land made available for leasing under subsection (b)(1) for which no bid is accepted or received, or the land for which a lease terminates, expires, is cancelled, or is relinquished, may be made available by the Secretary of the Interior for a new round of competitive bidding under that subsection.
All leases issued under this section, as amended by the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act of 1987, shall be conditioned upon payment by the lessee of a rental of not less than $3 per acre per year during the 2-year period beginning on the date the lease begins for new leases, and after the end of that 2-year period, $5 per acre per year for the following 6-year period, and not less than $15 per acre per year thereafter, or, in the case of a lease issued during the 10-year period beginning on
Any lease issued under this section, including a lease for tar sand areas, shall be for a primary term of 10 years.
A lease described in paragraph (1) shall continue after the primary term of the lease for any period during which oil or gas is produced in paying quantities.
Any lease issued under this section for land on which, or for which under an approved cooperative or unit plan of development or operation, actual drilling operations were commenced and diligently prosecuted prior to the end of the primary term of the lease shall be extended for 2 years and for any period thereafter during which oil or gas is produced in paying quantities.
At least 45 days before offering lands for lease under this section, and at least 30 days before approving applications for permits to drill under the provisions of a lease or substantially modifying the terms of any lease issued under this section, the Secretary shall provide notice of the proposed action. Such notice shall be posted in the appropriate local office of the leasing and land management agencies. Such notice shall include the terms or modified lease terms and maps or a narrative description of the affected lands. Where the inclusion of maps in such notice is not practicable, maps of the affected lands shall be made available to the public for review. Such maps shall show the location of all tracts to be leased, and of all leases already issued in the general area. The requirements of this subsection are in addition to any public notice required by other law.
The Secretary of the Interior, or for National Forest lands, the Secretary of Agriculture, shall regulate all surface-disturbing activities conducted pursuant to any lease issued under this chapter, and shall determine reclamation and other actions as required in the interest of conservation of surface resources. No permit to drill on an oil and gas lease issued under this chapter may be granted without the analysis and approval by the Secretary concerned of a plan of operations covering proposed surface-disturbing activities within the lease area. The Secretary concerned shall, by rule or regulation, establish such standards as may be necessary to ensure that an adequate bond, surety, or other financial arrangement will be established prior to the commencement of surface-disturbing activities on any lease, to ensure the complete and timely reclamation of the lease tract, and the restoration of any lands or surface waters adversely affected by lease operations after the abandonment or cessation of oil and gas operations on the lease. The Secretary shall not issue a lease or leases or approve the assignment of any lease or leases under the terms of this section to any person, association, corporation, or any subsidiary, affiliate, or person controlled by or under common control with such person, association, or corporation, during any period in which, as determined by the Secretary of the Interior or Secretary of Agriculture, such entity has failed or refused to comply in any material respect with the reclamation requirements and other standards established under this section for any prior lease to which such requirements and standards applied. Prior to making such determination with respect to any such entity the concerned Secretary shall provide such entity with adequate notification and an opportunity to comply with such reclamation requirements and other standards and shall consider whether any administrative or judicial appeal is pending. Once the entity has complied with the reclamation requirement or other standard concerned an oil or gas lease may be issued to such entity under this chapter.
The Secretary of the Interior may not issue any lease on National Forest System Lands reserved from the public domain over the objection of the Secretary of Agriculture.
No lease issued under this section which is subject to termination because of cessation of production shall be terminated for this cause so long as reworking or drilling operations which were commenced on the land prior to or within sixty days after cessation of production are conducted thereon with reasonable diligence, or so long as oil or gas is produced in paying quantities as a result of such operations. No lease issued under this section shall expire because operations or production is suspended under any order, or with the consent, of the Secretary. No lease issued under this section covering lands on which there is a well capable of producing oil or gas in paying quantities shall expire because the lessee fails to produce the same unless the lessee is allowed a reasonable time, which shall be not less than sixty days after notice by registered or certified mail, within which to place such well in producing status or unless, after such status is established, production is discontinued on the leased premises without permission granted by the Secretary under the provisions of this chapter.
Whenever it appears to the Secretary that lands owned by the United States are being drained of oil or gas by wells drilled on adjacent lands, he may negotiate agreements whereby the United States, or the United States and its lessees, shall be compensated for such drainage. Such agreements shall be made with the consent of the lessees, if any, affected thereby. If such agreement is entered into, the primary term of any lease for which compensatory royalty is being paid, or any extension of such primary term, shall be extended for the period during which such compensatory royalty is paid and for a period of one year from discontinuance of such payment and so long thereafter as oil or gas is produced in paying quantities.
If, during the primary term or any extended term of any lease issued under this section, a verified statement is filed by any mining claimant pursuant to subsection (c) of section 527 of this title, whether such filing occur prior to
The Secretary of the Interior shall, upon timely application therefor, issue a new lease in exchange for any lease issued for a term of twenty years, or any renewal thereof, or any lease issued prior to
For the purpose of more properly conserving the natural resources of any oil or gas pool, field, or like area, or any part thereof (whether or not any part of said oil or gas pool, field, or like area, is then subject to any cooperative or unit plan of development or operation), lessees thereof and their representatives may unite with each other, or jointly or separately with others, in collectively adopting and operating under a cooperative or unit plan of development or operation of such pool, field, or like area, or any part thereof, whenever determined and certified by the Secretary of the Interior to be necessary or advisable in the public interest. The Secretary is thereunto authorized, in his discretion, with the consent of the holders of leases involved, to establish, alter, change, or revoke drilling, producing, rental, minimum royalty, and royalty requirements of such leases and to make such regulations with reference to such leases, with like consent on the part of the lessees, in connection with the institution and operation of any such cooperative or unit plan as he may deem necessary or proper to secure the proper protection of the public interest. The Secretary may provide that oil and gas leases hereafter issued under this chapter shall contain a provision requiring the lessee to operate under such a reasonable cooperative or unit plan, and he may prescribe such a plan under which such lessee shall operate, which shall adequately protect the rights of all parties in interest, including the United States.
Any plan authorized by the preceding paragraph which includes lands owned by the United States may, in the discretion of the Secretary, contain a provision whereby authority is vested in the Secretary of the Interior, or any such person, committee, or State or Federal officer or agency as may be designated in the plan, to alter or modify from time to time the rate of prospecting and development and the quantity and rate of production under such plan. All leases operated under any such plan approved or prescribed by the Secretary shall be excepted in determining holdings or control under the provisions of any section of this chapter.
When separate tracts cannot be independently developed and operated in conformity with an established well-spacing or development program, any lease, or a portion thereof, may be pooled with other lands, whether or not owned by the United States, under a communitization or drilling agreement providing for an apportionment of production or royalties among the separate tracts of land comprising the drilling or spacing unit when determined by the Secretary of the Interior to be in the public interest, and operations or production pursuant to such an agreement shall be deemed to be operations or production as to each such lease committed thereto.
Any lease issued for a term of twenty years, or any renewal thereof, or any portion of such lease that has become the subject of a cooperative or unit plan of development or operation of a pool, field, or like area, which plan has the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, shall continue in force until the termination of such plan. Any other lease issued under any section of this chapter which has heretofore or may hereafter be committed to any such plan that contains a general provision for allocation of oil or gas shall continue in force and effect as to the land committed so long as the lease remains subject to the plan: Provided, That production is had in paying quantities under the plan prior to the expiration date of the term of such lease. Any lease heretofore or hereafter committed to any such plan embracing lands that are in part within and in part outside of the area covered by any such plan shall be segregated into separate leases as to the lands committed and the lands not committed as of the effective date of unitization: Provided, however, That any such lease as to the nonunitized portion shall continue in force and effect for the term thereof but for not less than two years from the date of such segregation and so long thereafter as oil or gas is produced in paying quantities. The minimum royalty or discovery rental under any lease that has become subject to any cooperative or unit plan of development or operation, or other plan that contains a general provision for allocation of oil or gas, shall be payable only with respect to the lands subject to such lease to which oil or gas shall be allocated under such plan. Any lease which shall be eliminated from any such approved or prescribed plan, or from any communitization or drilling agreement authorized by this section, and any lease which shall be in effect at the termination of any such approved or prescribed plan, or at the termination of any such communitization or drilling agreement, unless relinquished, shall continue in effect for the original term thereof, but for not less than two years, and so long thereafter as oil or gas is produced in paying quantities.
The Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized, on such conditions as he may prescribe, to approve operating, drilling, or development contracts made by one or more lessees of oil or gas leases, with one or more persons, associations, or corporations whenever, in his discretion, the conservation of natural products or the public convenience or necessity may require it or the interests of the United States may be best subserved thereby. All leases operated under such approved operating, drilling, or development contracts, and interests thereunder, shall be excepted in determining holdings or control under the provisions of this chapter.
The Secretary of the Interior, to avoid waste or to promote conservation of natural resources, may authorize the subsurface storage of oil or gas, whether or not produced from federally owned lands, in lands leased or subject to lease under this chapter. Such authorization may provide for the payment of a storage fee or rental on such stored oil or gas or, in lieu of such fee or rental, for a royalty other than that prescribed in the lease when such stored oil or gas is produced in conjunction with oil or gas not previously produced. Any lease on which storage is so authorized shall be extended at least for the period of storage and so long thereafter as oil or gas not previously produced is produced in paying quantities.
If the Secretary provides notice under paragraph (2)(B), the applicant shall have a period of 2 years from the date of receipt of the notice in which to complete all requirements specified by the Secretary, including providing information needed for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
If the applicant completes the requirements within the period specified in subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall issue a decision on the permit not later than 10 days after the date of completion of the requirements described in subparagraph (A), unless compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and other applicable law has not been completed within such timeframe.
If the applicant does not complete the requirements within the period specified in subparagraph (A) or if the applicant does not comply with applicable law, the Secretary shall deny the permit.
The Secretary shall assess a nonrefundable fee against any person that, in accordance with procedures established by the Secretary to carry out this subsection, submits an expression of interest in leasing land available for disposition under this section for exploration for, and development of, oil or gas.
Subject to subparagraph (B), the fee assessed under paragraph (1) shall be $5 per acre of the area covered by the applicable expression of interest.
The Secretary shall, by regulation, not less frequently than every 4 years, adjust the amount of the fee under subparagraph (A) to reflect the change in inflation.