Greeley Company Agrees to a $214,706 Payment to Resolve Allegations that It Removed Federally-Owned Oil and Gas Without Permission
DENVER – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announced today that Mineral Resources, Inc., an oil and gas company located in Greeley, Colorado, has agreed to a $214,706 payment to resolve allegations that it drilled an oil and gas well in Weld County, Colorado, to extract federal minerals without seeking and obtaining the required federal leases and permits. Matt Kirsch, Attorney for the United States, acting under authority conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 515, made the announcement on behalf of the office.
Before a company may drill for oil, gas, or other minerals owned by the United States and managed by the United States Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”), a company must obtain a lease from BLM to pay for the minerals. It must also obtain a BLM-issued permit to drill an oil and gas well. The United States contends that in 2012, Mineral Resources, Inc. (“MRI”) drilled an oil and gas well into railroad right-of-way C668, which is located north of Greeley, Colorado. The minerals beneath the railroad right-of-way belonged to the United States. Before drilling, MRI failed to seek and obtain a federal lease, or to file, and obtain approval for, an application for permit to drill with the Bureau of Land Management. Federal investigators, working with the United States Attorney’s Office, pursued a mineral trespass investigation against MRI but did not determine that the trespass was willful.
Ron Gonzales, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Inspector General's Energy Investigations Unit, stated, “This settlement is the direct result of multiple federal agencies working collaboratively and diligently to ensure that mineral resources removed from public ownership are properly accounted for on behalf of the American taxpayers.”
BLM Office of Law Enforcement and Security, Acting Deputy Director Shannon Tokos adds, “This case demonstrates the Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement program's support of the Secretary'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.”
This case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Wang.