Oil production on private lands has skyrocketed since 2009

Published on November 28, 2018 by Dave Kovaleski

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While the share of oil and natural gas production on federal lands has dropped since 2009, production has skyrocketed on private and state lands, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Oil production on private and state lands in 2017 was 108 percent higher than in 2009, while natural gas production on private and state lands in 2017 was 48 percent higher than in 2009. Production of oil and natural gas on non-federal lands is skyrocketing as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have increased production. Specifically, crude oil production on state and private lands increased by 3.7 million barrels per day from 2009 to 2017. That is more oil production than Algeria, Libya, Angola, Nigeria, Kuwait, Venezuela, Columbia, Brazil, Mexico, Qatar, and Norway produced in 2017.

In contrast, the share of crude oil production on federal lands dropped from 35.7 percent in 2009 to 23.7 percent in 2017, while the share of natural gas production on federal lands dropped from 25.2 percent in 2009 to 13 percent in 2017.

Production on federal lands decreased after the Obama Administration increased permit waiting times to drill on federal lands. This drove oil and gas companies to private and state lands to drill for oil and gas. The CRS found that it took an average of 307 days to approve or deny a permit in 2011, 89 days more than the 218 days it took in fiscal year 2006. Since fiscal year 2011, the Bureau of Land Management worked to decrease the time it takes to process a permit.

On the other hand, the permit process on private and state lands is relatively quick. State agencies process drilling permits on private lands and some states approve permits within 10 business days.

A study by the Institute for Energy Research shows that opening federal lands and waters to exploration and production would increase federal tax revenue by $24 billion annually.