Low Returns from Nevada’s Final Oil and Gas Lease Sale of 2019

AnalysisLow Returns from Nevada’s Final Oil and Gas Lease Sale of 2019The Bureau of Land Management’s fifth and final lease sale of the year in Nevada shows little industry interest

Energy & Natural Resources,  | Analysis
Dec 19, 2019  | 2 min read | Print Article

On December 17, 2019, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency within the Department of the Interior, held an oil and gas lease sale in the state of Nevada. The competitive lease sale offered 156 parcels composed of nearly 270,000 acres of federal land for oil and gas exploration and development.

The results of the sale while unsurprising to those that have been following leasing in the state of Nevada, were severely disappointing for federal taxpayers. Just 10 of the 156 parcels on offer received bids, with 13,217 acres leased in total. The sale garnered per-acre bid prices ranging from $2 to $41, and an overall average of $11.38 per acre.

Average per acre bid amounts in Nevada oil and gas lease sales are quite low, significantly lagging the national average. In 2018, the state averaged just $4.34 per acre from lease sales, well below the $918 per acre average everywhere else in the lower 48. This year, oil and gas leases on federal land in Nevada sold for $5.24/acre on average, compared to the average of $126.10/acre elsewhere in the continental U.S.

The lease sale was the fifth to take place in Nevada this year and the second largest, beat out only by the July lease sale which offered 200 parcels made up of 389,000 acres. In total, the December sale generated just $154,000 in high bids, despite the availability of 270,000 acres for lease.

Unfortunately for taxpayers, the results of this lease sale are typical of oil and gas leases in Nevada. Lease sales in October and November were similarly disappointing. These poor results are merely a symptom of a larger problem. The federal oil and gas system is broken.