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Press Release

Denver Company Pays $194,000 to Resolve Claims It Took Federal Minerals Without Permission

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado

DENVER—The United States Attorney’s Office t0day announced that PDC Energy, Inc., an oil and gas company headquartered in Denver, Colorado, has paid $194,000 to resolve allegations that it drilled, and then operated, an oil and gas well that removed federal minerals without permission.

In order to access federal minerals managed by the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”), oil and gas exploration companies must first obtain a federal lease and a BLM-issued permit to drill an oil and gas well. The federal lease includes an obligation to pay a mineral royalty to the United States for the federal minerals produced from the well.  Taking minerals without permission is considered a trespass.

The United States contends that in 2015, PDC drilled a well into federal minerals in Weld County, Colorado, without first obtaining the necessary permissions. The United States further contends that PDC then operated that well for several years without paying compensation to the United States for the minerals it extracted. PDC notified the United States of this well after a prior investigation and settlement with PDC involving mineral trespass. PDC fully cooperated with the investigation.

“Federal public lands belong to all of us, and protecting them is a priority for our office,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan. “Oil and gas companies that wish to drill on federal lands and take minerals owned by the public must obtain permission.”

 “This settlement is the direct result of the Department of the Interior’s Office of the Inspector General, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Office of the Solicitor working collaboratively and diligently with the Department of Justice to protect our nation’s mineral resources and ensure that public revenues are collected on behalf of all American taxpayers,” said Ron Gonzales, Special Agent in Charge for the Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General’s Energy Investigations Unit.

“The BLM is responsible for the management of the public’s energy and mineral resources. We take that responsibility seriously both to ensure the public receives the compensation due and to enable stewardship of impacted lands and resources,” said BLM Colorado State Director Doug Vilsack.

This case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Wang.

The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.



Deborah Takahara
Public Affairs Specialist

Updated August 25, 2022