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

Dr. Katherine Ortega Courtney speaks during the 100% Alaska Community Town Hall on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
100% Alaska survey results, state of services discussed at town hall

Change 4 the Kenai leads conversation about access to mental health, housing, transportation

Soldotna High School senior Josiah Burton testifies in opposition to a proposed cut of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District theater technicians while audience members look on during a board of education meeting on Monday, March 6, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Awaiting state funding, board of ed works to bring back staff positions

Alaska lawmakers this session passed a budget bill that includes $175 million in one-time funding for Alaska’s K-12 schools

David Brighton (left) and Leslie Byrd (right) prepare to lead marchers from the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex to Soldotna Creek Park as part of Soldotna Pride in the Park on Saturday, June 3, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Nobody Can Drag Us Down’: Soldotna celebrates LGBTQ+ pride

The event featured food trucks, vendors and a lineup of performers that included comedy, drag and music

Judges Peter Micciche, Terry Eubank and Tyler Best sample a salmon dish prepared by chef Stephen Lamm of the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank at Return of the Reds on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at the Kenai City Dock in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai celebrates ‘Return of the Reds’ in food bank fundraiser

Chefs competed for best salmon recipe; fresh-caught fish auctioned

A freshly stocked rainbow trout swims in Johnson Lake during Salmon Celebration on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at Johnson Lake in Kasilof, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Excellent lake fishing, good halibut and slow salmon

Northern Kenai Fishing Report for June 1

Map via Kenai Peninsula Borough.
Assembly to consider emergency service area for Cooper Landing

Borough legislation creating the service area is subject to voter approval

Peter Micciche (center) listens to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly certify the results of the Feb. 14, 2023, special mayoral election, through which he was elected mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Thousands respond to borough services survey

Many of the survey questions focused on the quality of borough roads

Two new cars purchased by the Soldotna Senior Center to support its Meals on Wheels program are parked outside of the center in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.(Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion file)
Soldotna budget defunds area senior center

The unanimous vote came after multiple people expressed concerns about how the center operates

An Epidemiology Bulletin titled “Drowning Deaths in Alaska, 2016-2021” published Wednesday, May 31, 2023. (Screenshot)
Health officials say Alaska leads nation in drowning deaths, urge safe practices

A majority of non-occupational Alaska drownings occur in relation to boating, both for recreation and for subsistence

Most Read