Land-based drilling review process to speed up
The Obama administration is to lay out plans today to speed up the review process for oil and gas companies seeking to drill on U.S. lands, The Houston Chronicle reports. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is set to announce an automated system for tracking onshore drilling applications as he finishes a two-day tour of booming oil and gas exploration in North Dakota. Under the changes being detailed today, the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management will be able to better monitor permits at every step of the federal review process and quickly flag those with missing or incomplete information. Modeled after an approach used for offshore drilling applications, the move could slash the amount of time it takes the government to process oil and gas permits by two-thirds—from the current average of 298 days. Much of the current processing time is devoted to companies and regulators passing applications back and forth to fill in holes, and bureau officials attributed 230 days of the average delay to operators. The move would apply to drilling nationwide, and is significant for states—including Louisiana—in which companies are using horizontal drilling techniques and hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and natural gas from dense shale formations.
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