Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Oil and Gas Bonds: BLM Needs a Comprehensive Strategy to Better Manage Potential Oil and Gas Well Liability -- GAO

This Government Accountability Office report (GAO-11-292), dated February 25, 2011, finds that the number of oil and gas wells on leased federal land has increased dramatically.

To help manage the environmental impacts of these wells, the Department of the Interior's (Interior) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) requires oil and gas operators to reclaim disturbed land in a manner it prescribes. To help ensure operators reclaim leased land, BLM requires them to provide a bond before beginning drilling operations. BLM refers to oil and gas wells and leased land that will require reclamation as potential liabilities because BLM may have to pay for reclamation if the operators fail to do so.

GAO was asked to determine (1) BLM's policies for managing potential federal oil and gas well liability, (2) the extent to which BLM has implemented these policies, and (3) the challenges, if any, BLM faces in managing potential oil and gas well liability. GAO analyzed agency data on bonding and wells and interviewed BLM officials. We surveyed all 48 BLM field offices with an oil and gas program, and received 33 responses covering these offices.

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