30 U.S. Code § 226 - Lease of oil and gas lands
All lands subject to disposition under this chapter which are known or believed to contain oil or gas deposits may be leased by the Secretary.
All leases issued under this section, as amended by the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act of 1987, shall be conditioned upon payment by the lessee of a rental of not less than $1.50 per acre per year for the first through fifth years of the lease and not less than $2 per acre per year for each year thereafter. A minimum royalty in lieu of rental of not less than the rental which otherwise would be required for that lease year shall be payable at the expiration of each lease year beginning on or after a discovery of oil or gas in paying quantities on the lands leased.
Competitive and noncompetitive leases issued under this section shall be for a primary term of 10 years: Provided, however, That competitive leases issued in special tar sand areas shall also be for a primary term of ten years. Each such lease shall continue so long after its primary term as oil or gas is produced in paying quantities. Any lease issued under this section for land on which, or for which under an approved cooperative or unit plan of development or operation, actual drilling operations were commenced prior to the end of its primary term and are being diligently prosecuted at that time shall be extended for two years and so long thereafter as oil or gas is produced in paying quantities.
At least 45 days before offering lands for lease under this section, and at least 30 days before approving applications for permits to drill under the provisions of a lease or substantially modifying the terms of any lease issued under this section, the Secretary shall provide notice of the proposed action. Such notice shall be posted in the appropriate local office of the leasing and land management agencies. Such notice shall include the terms or modified lease terms and maps or a narrative description of the affected lands. Where the inclusion of maps in such notice is not practicable, maps of the affected lands shall be made available to the public for review. Such maps shall show the location of all tracts to be leased, and of all leases already issued in the general area. The requirements of this subsection are in addition to any public notice required by other law.
The Secretary of the Interior, or for National Forest lands, the Secretary of Agriculture, shall regulate all surface-disturbing activities conducted pursuant to any lease issued under this chapter, and shall determine reclamation and other actions as required in the interest of conservation of surface resources. No permit to drill on an oil and gas lease issued under this chapter may be granted without the analysis and approval by the Secretary concerned of a plan of operations covering proposed surface-disturbing activities within the lease area. The Secretary concerned shall, by rule or regulation, establish such standards as may be necessary to ensure that an adequate bond, surety, or other financial arrangement will be established prior to the commencement of surface-disturbing activities on any lease, to ensure the complete and timely reclamation of the lease tract, and the restoration of any lands or surface waters adversely affected by lease operations after the abandonment or cessation of oil and gas operations on the lease. The Secretary shall not issue a lease or leases or approve the assignment of any lease or leases under the terms of this section to any person, association, corporation, or any subsidiary, affiliate, or person controlled by or under common control with such person, association, or corporation, during any period in which, as determined by the Secretary of the Interior or Secretary of Agriculture, such entity has failed or refused to comply in any material respect with the reclamation requirements and other standards established under this section for any prior lease to which such requirements and standards applied. Prior to making such determination with respect to any such entity the concerned Secretary shall provide such entity with adequate notification and an opportunity to comply with such reclamation requirements and other standards and shall consider whether any administrative or judicial appeal is pending. Once the entity has complied with the reclamation requirement or other standard concerned an oil or gas lease may be issued to such entity under this chapter.
The Secretary of the Interior may not issue any lease on National Forest System Lands reserved from the public domain over the objection of the Secretary of Agriculture.
No lease issued under this section which is subject to termination because of cessation of production shall be terminated for this cause so long as reworking or drilling operations which were commenced on the land prior to or within sixty days after cessation of production are conducted thereon with reasonable diligence, or so long as oil or gas is produced in paying quantities as a result of such operations. No lease issued under this section shall expire because operations or production is suspended under any order, or with the consent, of the Secretary. No lease issued under this section covering lands on which there is a well capable of producing oil or gas in paying quantities shall expire because the lessee fails to produce the same unless the lessee is allowed a reasonable time, which shall be not less than sixty days after notice by registered or certified mail, within which to place such well in producing status or unless, after such status is established, production is discontinued on the leased premises without permission granted by the Secretary under the provisions of this chapter.
Whenever it appears to the Secretary that lands owned by the United States are being drained of oil or gas by wells drilled on adjacent lands, he may negotiate agreements whereby the United States, or the United States and its lessees, shall be compensated for such drainage. Such agreements shall be made with the consent of the lessees, if any, affected thereby. If such agreement is entered into, the primary term of any lease for which compensatory royalty is being paid, or any extension of such primary term, shall be extended for the period during which such compensatory royalty is paid and for a period of one year from discontinuance of such payment and so long thereafter as oil or gas is produced in paying quantities.
If, during the primary term or any extended term of any lease issued under this section, a verified statement is filed by any mining claimant pursuant to subsection (c) of section 527 of this title, whether such filing occur prior to September 2, 1960 or thereafter, asserting the existence of a conflicting unpatented mining claim or claims upon which diligent work is being prosecuted as to any lands covered by the lease, the running of time under such lease shall be suspended as to the lands involved from the first day of the month following the filing of such verified statement until a final decision is rendered in the matter.
The Secretary of the Interior shall, upon timely application therefor, issue a new lease in exchange for any lease issued for a term of twenty years, or any renewal thereof, or any lease issued prior to August 8, 1946, in exchange for a twenty-year lease, such new lease to be for a primary term of five years and so long thereafter as oil or gas is produced in paying quantities and at a royalty rate of not less than 12½ per centum in amount or value of the production removed or sold from such leases, except that the royalty rate shall be 12½ per centum in amount or value of the production removed or sold from said leases as to (1) such leases, or such parts of the lands subject thereto and the deposits underlying the same, as are not believed to be within the productive limits of any producing oil or gas deposit, as such productive limits are found by the Secretary to have existed on August 8, 1946; and (2) any production on a lease from an oil or gas deposit which was discovered after May 27, 1941, by a well or wells drilled within the boundaries of the lease, and which is determined by the Secretary to be a new deposit; and (3) any production on or allocated to a lease pursuant to an approved cooperative or unit plan of development or operation from an oil or gas deposit which was discovered after May 27, 1941, on land committed to such plan, and which is determined by the Secretary to be a new deposit, where such lease, or a lease for which it is exchanged, was included in such plan at the time of discovery or was included in a duly executed and filed application for the approval of such plan at the time of discovery.
For the purpose of more properly conserving the natural resources of any oil or gas pool, field, or like area, or any part thereof (whether or not any part of said oil or gas pool, field, or like area, is then subject to any cooperative or unit plan of development or operation), lessees thereof and their representatives may unite with each other, or jointly or separately with others, in collectively adopting and operating under a cooperative or unit plan of development or operation of such pool, field, or like area, or any part thereof, whenever determined and certified by the Secretary of the Interior to be necessary or advisable in the public interest. The Secretary is thereunto authorized, in his discretion, with the consent of the holders of leases involved, to establish, alter, change, or revoke drilling, producing, rental, minimum royalty, and royalty requirements of such leases and to make such regulations with reference to such leases, with like consent on the part of the lessees, in connection with the institution and operation of any such cooperative or unit plan as he may deem necessary or proper to secure the proper protection of the public interest. The Secretary may provide that oil and gas leases hereafter issued under this chapter shall contain a provision requiring the lessee to operate under such a reasonable cooperative or unit plan, and he may prescribe such a plan under which such lessee shall operate, which shall adequately protect the rights of all parties in interest, including the United States.
Any plan authorized by the preceding paragraph which includes lands owned by the United States may, in the discretion of the Secretary, contain a provision whereby authority is vested in the Secretary of the Interior, or any such person, committee, or State or Federal officer or agency as may be designated in the plan, to alter or modify from time to time the rate of prospecting and development and the quantity and rate of production under such plan. All leases operated under any such plan approved or prescribed by the Secretary shall be excepted in determining holdings or control under the provisions of any section of this chapter.
When separate tracts cannot be independently developed and operated in conformity with an established well-spacing or development program, any lease, or a portion thereof, may be pooled with other lands, whether or not owned by the United States, under a communitization or drilling agreement providing for an apportionment of production or royalties among the separate tracts of land comprising the drilling or spacing unit when determined by the Secretary of the Interior to be in the public interest, and operations or production pursuant to such an agreement shall be deemed to be operations or production as to each such lease committed thereto.
Any lease issued for a term of twenty years, or any renewal thereof, or any portion of such lease that has become the subject of a cooperative or unit plan of development or operation of a pool, field, or like area, which plan has the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, shall continue in force until the termination of such plan. Any other lease issued under any section of this chapter which has heretofore or may hereafter be committed to any such plan that contains a general provision for allocation of oil or gas shall continue in force and effect as to the land committed so long as the lease remains subject to the plan: Provided, That production is had in paying quantities under the plan prior to the expiration date of the term of such lease. Any lease heretofore or hereafter committed to any such plan embracing lands that are in part within and in part outside of the area covered by any such plan shall be segregated into separate leases as to the lands committed and the lands not committed as of the effective date of unitization: Provided, however, That any such lease as to the nonunitized portion shall continue in force and effect for the term thereof but for not less than two years from the date of such segregation and so long thereafter as oil or gas is produced in paying quantities. The minimum royalty or discovery rental under any lease that has become subject to any cooperative or unit plan of development or operation, or other plan that contains a general provision for allocation of oil or gas, shall be payable only with respect to the lands subject to such lease to which oil or gas shall be allocated under such plan. Any lease which shall be eliminated from any such approved or prescribed plan, or from any communitization or drilling agreement authorized by this section, and any lease which shall be in effect at the termination of any such approved or prescribed plan, or at the termination of any such communitization or drilling agreement, unless relinquished, shall continue in effect for the original term thereof, but for not less than two years, and so long thereafter as oil or gas is produced in paying quantities.
The Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized, on such conditions as he may prescribe, to approve operating, drilling, or development contracts made by one or more lessees of oil or gas leases, with one or more persons, associations, or corporations whenever, in his discretion, the conservation of natural products or the public convenience or necessity may require it or the interests of the United States may be best subserved thereby. All leases operated under such approved operating, drilling, or development contracts, and interests thereunder, shall be excepted in determining holdings or control under the provisions of this chapter.
The Secretary of the Interior, to avoid waste or to promote conservation of natural resources, may authorize the subsurface storage of oil or gas, whether or not produced from federally owned lands, in lands leased or subject to lease under this chapter. Such authorization may provide for the payment of a storage fee or rental on such stored oil or gas or, in lieu of such fee or rental, for a royalty other than that prescribed in the lease when such stored oil or gas is produced in conjunction with oil or gas not previously produced. Any lease on which storage is so authorized shall be extended at least for the period of storage and so long thereafter as oil or gas not previously produced is produced in paying quantities.
If the Secretary provides notice under paragraph (2)(B), the applicant shall have a period of 2 years from the date of receipt of the notice in which to complete all requirements specified by the Secretary, including providing information needed for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
If the applicant completes the requirements within the period specified in subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall issue a decision on the permit not later than 10 days after the date of completion of the requirements described in subparagraph (A), unless compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and other applicable law has not been completed within such timeframe.
 So in original. Probably should be subsection “(k)(1)(C).”.
Act of March 1, 1911, referred to in subsecs. (b)(3)(E) and (o)(5)(A), is act Mar. 1, 1911, ch. 186, 36 Stat. 961, popularly known as the Weeks Law, which enacted former sections 513 and 514 and sections 515 to 519, 521, 552, and 563 of Title 16, Conservation, and amended sections 480 and 500 of Title 16. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section 552 of Title 16 and Tables.
The Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act of 1987, referred to in subsec. (d), is subtitle B (§§ 5101 to 5113) of title V of Pub. L. 100–203, Dec. 22, 1987, 101 Stat. 1330–256. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title of 1987 Amendment note set out under section 181 of this title and Tables.
The Combined Hydrocarbon Leasing Act of 1981, referred to in subsec. (n)(2), is Pub. L. 97–78, Nov. 16, 1981, 95 Stat. 1070, which amended sections 181, 182, 184, 209, 226, 241, 351, and 352 of this title and enacted a provision set out as a note under section 181 of this title. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title of 1981 Amendment note set out under section 181 of this title and Tables.
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, referred to in subsec. (p)(2)(A), (3)(A), (B), is Pub. L. 91–190, Jan. 1, 1970, 83 Stat. 852, as amended, which is classified generally to chapter 55 (§ 4321 et seq.) of Title 42, The Public Health and Welfare. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section 4321 of Title 42 and Tables.
2014—Subsec. (b)(1)(A). Pub. L. 113–291, § 3022(a)(1), inserted “, except as provided in subparagraph (C)” after “by oral bidding”.
Subsec. (b)(1)(C). Pub. L. 113–291, § 3022(a)(2), added subpar. (C).
2005—Subsec. (b)(1)(B). Pub. L. 109–58, § 350(b), inserted “, subject to paragraph (2)(B),” after “Thereafter, the Secretary”.
Subsec. (b)(2). Pub. L. 109–58, § 350(a), designated existing provisions as subpar. (A) and added subpars. (B) to (D).
Subsec. (b)(2)(A). Pub. L. 109–58, § 369(j)(1), designated first sentence as cl. (i), substituted “5,760” for “five thousand one hundred and twenty”, designated second and third sentences as cls. (ii) and (iii), respectively, and added cl. (iv).
Subsec. (p). Pub. L. 109–58, § 366, added subsec. (p).
1995—Subsec. (j). Pub. L. 104–66 struck out at end “The Secretary shall report to Congress at the beginning of each regular session all such agreements entered into during the previous year which involve unleased Government lands.”
1994—Subsec. (b)(1)(B). Pub. L. 103–437 substituted “Natural Resources” for “Interior and Insular Affairs” before “of the United States House”.
1992—Subsec. (b)(1)(A). Pub. L. 102–486, § 2507(a)(1), substituted “under paragraphs (2) and (3)” for “under paragraph (2)”.
Subsec. (b)(3). Pub. L. 102–486, § 2507(a)(2), added par. (3).
Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 102–486, § 2509, substituted “Competitive and noncompetitive leases issued under this section shall be for a primary term of 10 years: Provided, however,” for “Competitive leases issued under this section shall be for a primary term of five years and noncompetitive leases for a primary term of ten years: Provided, however,”.
Subsec. (o). Pub. L. 102–486, § 2508(a), added subsec. (o).
1987—Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 100–203, § 5102(a), amended par. (1) generally. Prior to amendment, par. (1) read as follows: “If the lands to be leased are within any known geological structure of a producing oil or gas field, they shall be leased to the highest responsible qualified bidder by competitive bidding under general regulations in units of not more than six hundred and forty acres, which shall be as nearly compact in form as possible, upon the payment by the lessee of such bonus as may be accepted by the Secretary and of such royalty as may be fixed in the lease, which shall be not less than 12½ per centum in amount or value of the production removed or sold from the lease.”
Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 100–203, § 5102(b), amended subsec. (c) generally. Prior to amendment, subsec. (c) read as follows: “If the lands to be leased are not subject to leasing under subsection (b) of this section, the person first making application for the lease who is qualified to hold a lease under this chapter shall be entitled to a lease of such lands without competitive bidding. Such leases shall be conditioned upon the payment by the lessee of a royalty of 12½ per centum in amount or value of the production removed or sold from the lease.”
Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 100–203, § 5102(c), amended subsec. (d) generally. Prior to amendment, subsec. (d) read as follows: “All leases issued under this section shall be conditioned upon payment by the lessee of a rental of not less than 50 cents per acre for each year of the lease. Each year’s lease rental shall be paid in advance. A minimum royalty of $1 per acre in lieu of rental shall be payable at the expiration of each lease year beginning on or after a discovery of oil or gas in paying quantities on the lands leased.”
Subsecs. (f) to (n). Pub. L. 100–203, § 5102(d)(1), added subsecs. (f) to (h) and redesignated former subsecs. (f) to (k) as (i) to (n), respectively.
1981—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 97–78, § 1(6)(a), designated existing provisions as par. (1) and added par. (2).
Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 97–78, § 1(6)(b), substituted “subject to leasing under subsection (b) of this section” for “within any known geological structure of a producing oil or gas field”.
Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 97–78, § 1(6)(c), inserted proviso that competitive leases in special tar sand areas be for a primary term of ten years.
Subsec. (k). Pub. L. 97–78, § 1(8), added subsec. (k).
1960—Pub. L. 86–705 generally amended this section and sections 226d and 226e of this title, combining all three sections and subdividing provisions into subsections (a) to (j) of this section. Among other changes were: substitution of a fixed 10-year term for a renewable 5-year term for noncompetitive leases, the addition of subsec. (h) provisions with respect to the running of time against a lease during a contest of the claim, an increase in the minimum yearly rentals from 25 to 50 cents an acre, and striking out provisions that permitted a waiver of second-year and third-year rentals in certain situations.
Pub. L. 86–507 authorized notice of withdrawal to be given by certified mail.
1954—Act July 29, 1954, in second par., provided, that no lease shall terminate for nonproduction (1) if reworking or drilling operations are begun within 60 days after cessation of production, (2) if cessation of production is by order or with consent of the Secretary of the Interior, or (3) unless the lessee is given a reasonable time of at least 60 days to place a well, capable of producing paying quantities of oil or gas, on a producing status.
Act July 29, 1954, in third par., made sure that if a lessee seasonably applies for an extension of the initial five-year term of the lease he will be given such extension for either 5 years or 2 years, depending on whether or not the land is in a producing structure.
Act July 29, 1954, in fifth par., provided that the primary term of a lease which is effected by an agreement under which the United States received compensatory royalty remains in full force and effect for 1 year following discontinuance of compensatory royalty payments.
1946—Act Aug. 8, 1946, principally substituted, with respect to the leasing of lands not within a known geological structure of a producing oil or gas field, a royalty rate of 12½ per cent without further provision as to lease terms or quality of production; substituted a minimum royalty of $1 per acre per annum after discovery for the advance rental of not less than 25 cents per acre per annum required prior to discovery; provided that all leases shall be for a primary term of 5 years which shall continue thereafter for so long as oil or gas is produced in paying quantities, and that leases, with certain exceptions, shall be subject to one renewal for 5 years, and, if not subject to renewal, shall extend for an additional 2 years if diligent operations are in progress at the lease expiration date.
1935—Act Aug. 21, 1935, amended section generally.
1931—Act Mar. 4, 1931, amended section generally.
1930—Act July 3, 1930, amended section generally.
See note set out under section 181 of this title.
Functions of Secretary of the Interior, referred to in subsec. (j), to promulgate regulations under this chapter relating to establishment of diligence requirements for operations conducted on Federal leases, setting of rates for production of Federal leases, and specifying of procedures, terms, and conditions for acquisition and disposition of Federal royalty interests taken in kind, transferred to Secretary of Energy by section 7152(b) of Title 42, The Public Health and Welfare. Section 7152(b) of Title 42 was repealed by Pub. L. 97–100, title II, § 201, Dec. 23, 1981, 95 Stat. 1407, and functions of Secretary of Energy returned to Secretary of the Interior. See House Report No. 97–315, pp. 25, 26, Nov. 5, 1981.
Act July 14, 1952, ch. 742, 66 Stat. 630, provided:
Grant by Secretary of the Interior of oil, gas, and other mineral leases on submerged lands of outer Continental Shelf, see section 1331 et seq. of Title 43, Public Lands.