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Mineral Leasing on Individual Indian and Tribal Lands

The Indian Energy Service Center coordinates the process of approving mineral leases on American Indian and Alaska Native lands.

You may need to obtain a lease from an American Indian and Alaska Native individual or Tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for development projects on lands held in trust or restricted status by the federal government for Native people.  

Mineral owners may include both Tribal entities as well as individual Indian landowners. 

Federal agencies involved in the mineral-leasing process for Indian trust resources include BIA, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR), and the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration (BTFA).

BIA regulations for leases are in Title 25 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The specific regulations for mineral leases are located at:  

There are more regulations that pertain to specific Tribes and resources. 

The most common mineral resources are oil and gas. Oil and gas development and production is the most prominent activity under mineral leasing. However, other minerals include coal, sand/gravel, limestone, and clay.  

There are eight BIA regions which have oil and gas activity under their jurisdiction: Eastern Oklahoma Region, Great Plains Region, Midwest Region, Navajo Region, Rocky Mountain Region, Southern Plains Region, Southwest Region, Western Region. There are other resources that fall under the mineral leasing umbrella which may occur in other regions. 

Agency or Tribal staff are generally responsible for obtaining documentation that supports a lease and reviewing the proposed lease terms, conditions, and provisions. 

For more information about completing the application documents needed to obtain a mineral lease, please contact the Indian Energy Service Center or your BIA regional or agency office.

For more information about completing the application documents needed to obtain a cooperative agreement (communitization agreements and unit agreements), that include Indian lands, contact your local BIA regional or agency office.  

Requesting Support Processing Assistance from IESC 

IESC performs support processing for departmental field offices (BIA, BLM, ONRR, BTFA, and other federal offices) upon request. To request support processing from the IESC, office managers may submit new projects requests for assistance related to Indian energy and mineral mineral management through their respective federal official for consideration to IESC. 

When nominating projects for energy, renewable energy, and minerals program support, please use the IESC Request Form. Nominations should consider and include: 

  1. Contact information for the project, 
  2. Brief description of the technical support needed and reasons for the need, 
  3. Estimate of the timeframes associated with the workload, 
  4. Critical completion/project dates, 
  5. Risk posed to Department of the Interior (DOI) if the work is not completed.

After filing out the IESC Request Form, please submit any relevant supporting documents to IESCRequests@bia.gov, if needed.

All cases nominated will be prioritized by IESC. Prioritization will be based on the items noted above. Due to staffing limitations, not all projects nominated may be selected for assistance. IESC will keep offices apprised of the status of their nominations. 

For more information, please visit the IESC referral information page. 

Applicable Guidance Documents: 

Lease Bond Requirement for Prospective Companies 

A standard lease bond is required for every oil and gas lease to: (1) protect the lessor against royalty defaults; (2) plug any unplugged wells at the end of the lease life; and (3) reclaim any surface disturbance. 

To meet oil and gas lease bond requirements, companies may submit their nationwide oil and gas lease bond form to IESC for approval. Companies may choose to submit a collective bond form instead to the BIA agency in which they will be conducting business. Either is acceptable for approval. Nationwide bonds will cover leases located under different jurisdictions. Collective bonds will cover leases under one jurisdiction. Please contact the agency in which you are acquiring leases for further information.

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