Using the Least Amount of Acreage in History, Interior Hits Record Oil and Gas Revenues in 2018 at $1.1 Billion

BLM releases 2018 statistics highlighting improved permitting processes leading to increased responsible energy development on public lands

Last edited 05/03/2023

WASHINGTON – Under President Trump’s leadership, Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 was a record year for onshore oil and gas revenues on public lands due in large part to more streamlined permitting timelines and abundant acreage for lease as was highlighted in statistics released by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today. In FY 2018, the U.S. hit all-time highs for federal oil production on federal land, 214,144,945 barrels produced onshore, with the smallest footprint of acreage under lease (25,552,475 acres) since BLM started collecting comparable data in FY 1985 (120,686,611 acres).

“Demonstrating the marvel of technology and innovation, our production numbers are unprecedented, even though we have the fewest acres under lease in almost four decades,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “President Trump has ensured that America’s great energy renaissance includes federal lands while delivering high paying jobs and low cost fuel.”

Responsible energy development and production on public lands are now more attractive propositions for industry. Revenues from onshore oil and gas production on federal lands directly fund the U.S. Treasury, state budgets and support public education, infrastructure improvements, and other state-determined priorities. 

Over the past two years, BLM has vastly improved its oil and gas leasing program by reducing processing times for Applications for Permit to Drill (APDs) while lease sales have netted a record $1.1 billion from 28 oil and gas lease sales held in FY 2018. Private investment on federal lands is further demonstrated by an increase in drilling permits, which are up 55 percent since 2016, from 2,184 in FY 2016 to 3,388 in FY 2018. 

Streamlining Permitting Processes

In FY 2018, BLM cut its average time to process an APD by more than 30 percent in comparison fiscal year 2017. In 2016, it took an average of 257 days to process a permit, while in 2018 the time to permit was an average of 176 days. Automated processes were implemented to increase the efficiency and transparency of the APD review and approval process, providing greater regulatory certainty for stakeholders. With these improvements, BLM remains dedicated to further reducing these permitting times.

Along with reduced drilling times and an increase in the total number of APDs approved, FY 2018 saw an increase in the number of wells spudded or started. In FY 2018, 1,919 wells were spudded, an increase of over 1,000 wells and a 127 percent increase compared to FY 2016 (847 spudded wells). 

Resurgence of Federal Lands

Data released today indicate positive trends for responsible energy production on federal lands. The number of producing leases continued to increase steadily to 24,028 in 2018 — the highest level since 2008. BLM received bids on 1,488,300 acres in FY 2018, marking the largest number of acreage receiving bids in more than ten years and an increase of 87 percent from 792,823 acres receiving bids in 2017.

Numbers for new acres leased and new leases issued during the year have continued to increase, up 117 percent for new acres leased during the year and up 156 percent for new leases issued since FY 2016. BLM leased 1,253,369 acres in FY 2018 up from 1,114,218 leased acres in FY 2017 and 577,317 leased acres in FY 2016. New leases issued rose to 1,333 in FY 2018 compared to 520 new leases issued in FY 2016.

In addition, industry nominated or filed Expressions of Interest (EOI) for 11 percent more acres in 2018 than in 2016. In 2018, EOIs covered approximately 8.7 million acres showing an increase in interest for oil and gas development on public lands. 

New Mexico and Wyoming:

  • Account for two-thirds of APDs handled by the BLM;
  • Account for nearly two-thirds of all new well activity (spuds) in the BLM;
  • Remain largest leasing states accounting for more than half of the leases in effect; and
  • Finished 2018 as the top two states for acres under lease and producing leases.

Explore the data.

Click through to view the full infographic.


About the BLM 

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $96 billion in sales of goods and services throughout the American economy in fiscal year 2017. These activities supported more than 468,000 jobs.

The BLM’s multiple-use mission allows the management of public lands for conservation, recreation and commercial activities, including comprehensive energy development.


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