The Land Division is primarily responsible for processing all Tribal Trust related oil and gas leases, rights-of-way, surface leases and associated conveyances as well as processing applications for permission to drill new wells.
Oil and Gas Leases
The tribal authorization process for mineral lease projects on the Reservation applies only when the Tribe is the mineral owner. Proposed mineral leases require the approval of Tribal Council and various federal agencies, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Tribal mineral leases on the Southern Ute Reservation are negotiated directly with the Tribe via the SUIT DOE Land Division.
ROW & Surface Leases
ROW projects include, but are not limited to, pipelines, access roads, communication lines and electrical lines. Surface lease projects include but are not limited to; central delivery points (CDPs), compressor & treatment facilities, disposal wells, water transfer facilities, communication towers and off-lease well pads.
In some cases, O&G facilities are constructed within the boundaries of a specific lease and serve only the purposes contemplated in that lease. These projects are considered “on-lease” and require limited federal involvement. An example of an on-lease ROW is a pipeline installed and operated by the Operator of the associated lease that gathers gas within one lease only. For on-lease ROW situations, an on-lease facilities form approved by the SUIT DOE is required, but a Grant of Easement for ROW approved by the BIA is not required.
In other cases, O&G facilities serve multiple leases and/or are constructed outside of the boundaries of the lease served. These projects are considered “off-lease” and require a Tribal Council Resolution and BIA approval of a Grant of Easement for ROW. An example of an off-lease ROW is a pipeline that traverses and gathers gas from wells located on multiple leases. The majority of off-lease ROW and Surface Leases are granted for 10-year terms.
Starting in 2019, Off Lease Rights-of-way and surface leases that are expiring are tracked by the Land Division to ensure operator compliance.
The process to obtain a tribal oil & gas lease, ROW, surface lease, and applications for permission to drill new wells on the Reservation is outlined in detail within the E&P Operators Manual for Energy Development Projects.