Worries about potential protection of sage grouse habitat in eastern Nevada dramatically dampened interest in an auction of oil and gas leases on federal lands last week.
Only one parcel out of the 97 offered by the Bureau of Land Management for lease in its Ely district drew a bid. A total of 189,000 acres were leased.
Kirkwood Oil & Gas LLC of Casper, Wyo, paid $2 an acre for a lease of 473 acres in Nye County.
The lease auction had drawn a protest from WildEarth Guardians, an environmental protection group headquartered at Santa Fe, N.M. It said oil exploration in the region should be limited until the sage-grouse issue is settled.
The BLM, however, decided to move ahead.
Another test of the oil-lease market in eastern Nevada is scheduled for March 10, when the BLM will auction leases in the Elko area. Noble Energy of Houston has been undertaking closely watched exploration in that area.
In the meantime, the BLM said it’s seeking public comments on its plan to put oil and gas leases 197 parcels totaling nearly 416,000 acres in the Battle Mountain area up for auction.
The sale is scheduled for June.