Lease sale in Alaska petroleum reserve draws modest interest

  • Thursday, December 13, 2018 10:43pm
  • News

ANCHORAGE (AP) — A federal sale of oil leases in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska has again drawn a modest response.

The Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday received 16 bids on 16 tracts covering 272 square miles, the Alaska Journal of Commerce reported .

The BLM had offered 254 tracts on more than 4,375 square miles.

Federal officials said the modest bidding could be attributed to the lack of access to the most prospective areas. BLM received seven bids in a 2017 lease sale.

Environmental groups oppose expanded drilling in the reserve west of Prudhoe Bay. They say oil development will imperil caribou herds, polar bears and ecologically significant wetlands used for breeding by migratory waterfowl from around the world.

The bids ranged from $57,000 to $216,000 per lease and took in $1.13 million. Half will go to the state of Alaska through revenue sharing. Most leases sold are near areas that ConocoPhillips is exploring and developing.

Assistant Interior Secretary Joe Balash in a call with reporters said the 2018 results were encouraging. The lack of bidding, he said, compared with more active bidding on nearby state lands, underscores the need to review the land-use plan of the reserve.

The petroleum reserve was created in 1923 by President Warren Harding as the Naval Petroleum Reserve and set aside as an emergency oil supply for the Navy. It covers 35,625 square miles, about the size of Indiana.

Congress in 1976 renamed the reserve and transferred administration to the Interior Department.

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in 2013 announced a management plan that split the reserve’s acreage roughly in half between conservation areas and land available for petroleum development. Salazar said oil companies would have access to nearly three-fourths of the estimated economically recoverable oil in the reserve.

The plan increased conservation areas from 12,968 square miles to 20,860 square miles, including additional land around Teshekpuk Lake, a renowned habitat for migratory waterfowl.

Last December the U.S. Geological Survey increased its mean recoverable oil estimate for the reserve to nearly 8.7 billion barrels.

Balash announced Nov. 20 that BLM would start a process to revise the 2013 land use plan with the goal of opening additional areas of the reserve for oil and gas leasing.

Matt Lee-Ashley of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, in an email announcement called the lease sale another “major flop,” trading wilderness for lease bids averaging $6.50 per acre.


• By Associated Press


More in News

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Kenai Courthouse is photographed on Feb. 26, 2019, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Sterling resident sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual abuse of minors

Additionally, Crane will face 15 years of supervised probation as well as sex offender registration and treatment

Shrubs grow outside of the Kenai Courthouse on Monday, July 3, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former Soldotna police officer acquitted of 2023 assault allegations

He was found not guilty following a five-day trial in late June

A parade of cars and trucks flying flags in support of former President Donald Trump proceed down the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Residents caravan across central peninsula in support of Trump

The parade came a day after an attempted assassination of the former president

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
King salmon fishing closed on Kasilof starting Monday

The emergency order is being issued to protect returning king salmon, citing weak returns

Soldotna City Hall is seen on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna’s city council appropriates funds for FY 2025 capital projects

Improvements are described for streets, police facility, Soldotna Creek Park and Soldotna Community Memorial Park

Most Read