The Secretary of the Interior shall, not later than 30 days after December 22, 1975, prescribe and make effective a rule which prohibits the bidding for any right to develop crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids on any lands located on the Outer Continental Shelf by any person if more than one major oil company, more than one affiliate of a major oil company, or a major oil company and any affiliate of a major oil company, has or have a significant ownership interest in such person. Such rule shall define affiliate relationships and significant ownership interests.
As used in this section:
(1) The term "major oil company" means any person who, individually or together with any other person with respect to which such person has an affiliate relationship or significant ownership interest, produced during a prior 6–month period specified by the Secretary, an average daily volume of 1,600,000 barrels of crude oil, natural gas liquids equivalents, and natural gas equivalents.
(2) One barrel of natural gas equivalent equals 5,626 cubic feet of natural gas measured at 14.73 pounds per square inch (MSL) and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
(3) One barrel of natural gas liquids equivalent equals 1.454 barrels of natural gas liquids at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Secretary may, in his discretion, consider a request from any person described in subsection (a) of this section for an exemption from the prohibition of this section. In considering any such request, the Secretary may exempt bidding for leases for lands in any area only if the Secretary finds, on the record after opportunity for an agency hearing, that—
(1) such lands have extremely high cost exploration or development problems; and
(2) exploration and development will not occur on such lands unless such exemption is granted.
Findings of the Secretary under this subsection shall be final, and shall not be invalidated unless found to be arbitrary or capricious.
This section shall not be construed to prohibit the unitization of producing fields to increase production or maximize ultimate recovery of oil or natural gas, or both.
The Secretary shall study and report to the Congress, not later than 6 months after December 22, 1975, with respect to the feasibility and desirability of extending the prohibition on joint bidding to—
(1) bidding for any right to develop crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids on Federal lands other than those located on the Outer Continental Shelf; and
(2) bidding for any right to develop coal and oil shale on such lands.
(Pub. L. 94–163, title I, §105, Dec. 22, 1975, 89 Stat. 879; Pub. L. 95–372, title II, §205(c), Sept. 18, 1978, 92 Stat. 646.)
1978—Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 95–372 substituted "in his discretion, consider a request from any person described in subsection (a) of this section for an exemption from the prohibition of this section" for "by amendment to the rule, exempt bidding for leases for lands located in frontier or other areas determined by the Secretary to be extremely high risk lands or to present unusually high cost exploration, or development, problems" in existing provisions and inserted provisions setting out the requisite finding of the Secretary and making arbitrariness and capriciousness of the Secretary's findings the only bases for invalidation of those findings.
Functions of Secretary of the Interior to promulgate regulations under this chapter relating to fostering of competition for Federal leases and to implementation of alternative bidding systems authorized for award of Federal leases transferred to Secretary of Energy by section 7152(b) of this title. Section 7152(b) of this title repealed by Pub. L. 97–100, title II, §201, Dec. 23, 1981, 95 Stat. 1407, and functions of Secretary of Energy returned to Secretary of the Interior. See House Report No. 97–315, pp. 25, 26, Nov. 5, 1981.