Friday, October 28, 2011

BLM sets date, time for December National Petroleum Reserve lease sale

Tim Bradner
Alaska Journal of Commerce

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will hold its planned December National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska lease sale on Dec. 7, at 1 p.m. in Anchorage, BLM officials announced Friday. The sale will offer 283 tracts, or about 3.06 million acres, in the northeast and northwest planning areas of the petroleum reserve.

BLM’s sale will come several hours after a state of Alaska area-wide lease sale of about 15 million acres, which will be held at 9 a.m., also in Anchorage.

The unusual timing of having both lease sales on the same day will allow bidders maximum advantage in bidding for prospects that straddle the boundary between federal and state lands, state Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan said.

This means a bidder could potentially pick up acreage on state and federal land and gain more flexibility in accessing oil and gas pools, Sullivan said.

A 2005 U.S. Geological Survey assessment identified 19 oil plays in the central North Slope region that lie astride the boundary between the NPR-A and Alaska-owned lands, and 17 of these are included in the federal sale, Sullivan said.

The near-simultaneous offering, “should greatly improve a company’s ability to explore and develop both state and federal acreage. We have been coordinating with the federal government on our lease sale dates in the hope that working together will enhance opportunities,” the commissioner said.

BLM officials said they have worked to balance environmental protection responsibilities with orderly resource development. “I believe it is possible to develop oil and gas resources while protecting important surface and subsistence resources,” said Bud Cribley, BLM’s Alaska director. “The sale in December reflects BLM’s mission to balance the protection of natural resources and rural subsistence with the nation’s need for oil and gas development in the NPR-A,” Cribley said.

Republished with the permission of the Alaska Journal of Commerce. This article appears in the AJOC October 30 2011 issue of Alaska Journal of Commerce. Read more: