DENVER –The United States Attorney’s Office t0day announced that PDC Energy, Inc., an oil and gas company headquartered in Denver, Colorado, has paid $688,500 to resolve allegations that it drilled, and later operated, an oil and gas well that removed federal minerals without permission.
Oil and gas exploration companies may only drill for oil, gas, or other minerals owned by the United States after first applying for and obtaining a federal mineral lease from the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”). These companies must also obtain a BLM-issued permit to drill an oil and gas well. The United States contends that in 2013, PDC drilled a well into federal minerals in Weld County, Colorado without first obtaining a federal lease and a permit to drill. PDC fully cooperated with the investigation, and the resolution announced today resolves liability for the full alleged trespass period: July 1, 2013 through April 30, 2019.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting our public lands,” said Matthew Kirsch, Attorney for the United States acting under authority conferred 28 U.S.C. § 515. “Companies have to follow the rules governing those public lands. If they don’t, they will pay an additional price.”
“The settlement reached during this investigation is the direct result of the OIG, Department of Justice, Bureau of Land Management, and Office of the Solicitor working collaboratively and diligently on behalf of all American citizens to ensure minerals removed from federal ownership are properly accounted for and public revenues are collected,” said Ron Gonzales, Special Agent in Charge for the Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General’s Energy Investigations Unit.
“This case demonstrates the Bureau of Land Management’s efforts to support the Secretary of Interior’s goals of ensuring that the public receives fair market value for resources, recovers costs where appropriate, and fosters partnerships to achieve balanced stewardship and use of public lands. We are grateful for the work of all the bureaus involved to settle this case,” said Jamie Connell, BLM Colorado State Director.
This case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Wang.