The U.S. department in charge of land-based federal oil and gas drilling is getting a face-lift for the digital era, the Obama administration announced Tuesday.
The Bureau of Land Management, which is in charge of oil production and permits for onshore resources, will review oil and natural gas permit applications digitally, expediting an approval process that has recently been criticized by oil and natural gas companies.
Once the shift is in full effect in May 2013, it will take the bureau 60 days to review and process a permit. Under the current system, the department gets through one permit in 298 days on average, the Associated Press reported.
We have heard from the industry that they believe that BLM's administrative processes are too slow and result in unnecessary delay and added costs, the bureau's director, Bob Abbey, said in a conference call, the AP reported. And to some degree, their criticism is valid.
The American Petroleum Institute, the largest oil industry trade group in the U.S., applauded the move, but said more reforms are needed.
We support any system that will ensure efficiency and a clear, consistent application process, said API's upstream director Erik Milito. Most important, the administration needs to significantly reduce the unnecessary multi-year time frame for environmental reviews and open areas that remain off-limits for responsible energy development.
On March 28, the White House announced it was readying an impact statement ahead of geologic and seismic surveys of the Atlantic Ocean, a crucial step before any oil or natural gas exploration can take place.
The White House has been under mounting pressure to lower energy and gasoline prices, and Republican presidential candidates and trade groups have slammed the President for not exploiting more of the country's domestic energy sources.
We urge federal policymakers to establish a regulatory and fiscal environment in which producers can access and develop abundant Western oil and natural gas resources, Milito said.
The Land Bureau's face-lift was announced by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, as he toured North Dakota's booming oil fields, the Associated Press reported.