Anchorage, Alaska (KINY) The Bureau of Land Management has given the go ahead to explore more land for oil in the North Alaska Petroleum Reserve.
The agency will accept bids on 900 tracts this year which compared to 145 tracts offered last year. It is the largest lease sale to be offered in the region. Alaska's congressional delegation praised the announcement. Environmental groups are opposed. The Obama administration had marked off limits portions of the reserve to protect birds and caribou habitats.
“In May, I put my hand on TAPS and pledged to help fill it by putting Alaskans back to work on the North Slope. This large and unprecedented sale in Alaska will help achieve our goal of American Energy Dominance,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Responsible development of petroleum resources in Alaska means creating good-paying local jobs and revenue for the communities while protecting vital subsistence resources that Alaska Native communities depend on. I'm excited to work with our Alaska Native Corporation and Tribal partners, North Slope Mayor Harry Brower, Senator Murkowski, and others to put Alaska to work.”
The December 6, 2017, sale will be the 13th in the NPR-A since 1999. These 900 tracts, which cover 10.3 million acres, constitute all the tracts designated as available for development in the 2013 Record of Decision for the Integrated Activity Plan/Environmental Impact Statement for the NPR-A.
There are currently 189 authorized leases in the NPR-A, covering more than 1,372,688 acres. Bids received for the 12 previous sales generated more than $280 million, half of which was paid to the State of Alaska.
“I thank the administration for recognizing that Alaska has a leading role to play in America’s energy dominance and welcome its desire to increase access to the resources within our state’s 23-million acre National Petroleum Reserve,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources. “Responsible development in the NPR-A will strengthen our economy, begin to refill our Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, and generate new wealth to create prosperity and reduce our deficits. Those are substantial benefits—and this lease sale is a key step to gaining them.”
“I welcome the BLM’s announcement today. Exploration and development of the NPR-A offers a promising opportunity to fill TAPS, boost Alaska’s economy, and protect America’s energy security,” said Senator Dan Sullivan. “After years of cutting of access to development, jobs and growth, the Department of Interior is now working with Alaska to put people back to work and ensure American energy dominance.”
“I thank the President and Secretary Zinke for their work and commitment towards American energy dominance, an effort that is only made possible by Alaska’s vast energy resources,” said Congressman Don Young. “This decision is a testament to our work to spearhead new development and fight back against the status quo that has underserved Alaskan communities and interests for years. The NPR-A was always intended for development, not to be locked away in perpetuity like the previous administration attempted. This announcement reaffirms Congress’ original intent of the NPR-A and begins moving us back in the right direction. I look forward to working with Secretary Zinke and the Department of Interior on strengthening responsible oil and gas development not only in the NPR-A, but across Alaska’s North Slope.”
“BLM Alaska is committed to supporting energy development while fostering responsible stewardship of the environment,” said Karen Mouritsen, Acting State Director for BLM Alaska. “This December lease sale and future lease sales in the NPR-A demonstrate this Administration’s commitment to the long term energy strength and economic growth of the State of Alaska.”
“I welcome Secretary Zinke’s announcement today that the Bureau of Land Management will hold an oil and gas lease sale in the National Petroleum Reserve—Alaska,” said North Slope Borough Mayor Harry K. Brower Jr. “The Secretary’s announcement demonstrates his commitment to maximize the tracts offered for sale in NPR-A lease sales while striking a balance between promoting development and protecting subsistence and surface resources.”
From Aug. 7 through Sept 6 of this year, the BLM sought public input and nominations on all tracts within the NPR-A. The BLM received numerous comments and nominations on tracts available and unavailable for leasing.
In February 2015, the BLM issued the Record of Decision for the Greater Mooses Tooth 1 oil and gas development project, opening the way for the first production of oil and gas on public land in the NPR-A. A second, proposed development project within the reserve, called Greater Mooses Tooth 2, is currently under environmental review by the BLM.
The upcoming oil and gas lease sales are competitive. A detailed statement of sale, including a description of the tracts offered for lease, the lease terms, conditions and special stipulations, and how and where to submit the sealed bids, will be available at https://on.doi.gov/2fgHGRq.
Sealed bids must be received by 4 p.m. (AKST) on Dec. 4, at the BLM-Alaska State Office. The BLM will open sealed bids submitted on the tracts offered at 1 p.m. (AKST) on Dec. 6, and will livestream the opening of the bids at www.blm.gov/live.