BLM announces largest-ever NPR-A lease sale

In keeping with the Trump administration’s energy policies the Bureau of Land Management announced Wednesday that it will be putting more of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska up for bid than ever before in the agency’s annual fall lease sale.

According to a BLM Alaska release, oil and gas explorers will be able to bid on 900 tracts covering 10.3 million acres in the NPR-A before bids are opened Dec. 6 in Anchorage.

The largest NPR-A offering to-date was in 2004 when 5.8 million acres over 508 leasable tracts were made available.

“In May, I put my hand on (the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System) and pledged to help fill it by putting Alaskans back to work on the North Slope,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in the release. “This large and unprecedented sale in Alaska will help achieve our goal of American energy dominance.”

The members of Alaska’s congressional delegation and North Slope Borough Mayor Harry Brower Jr. lauded the decision in associated statements.

“The secretary’s announcement demonstrates his commitment to maximize the tracts offered for sale in the NPR-A lease sales while striking a balance between promoting development and protecting subsistence and surface resources.”

The 2016 NPR-A sale was for 1.4 million acres over 145 tracts but yielded more than $18.8 million in bids, the largest amount since 2004, as recent oil have renewed interest in the NPR-A and adjacent state leases.

Much of the 22.8 million-acre NPR-A was prioritized for wildlife habitat and other uses in the 2013 NPR-A Integrated Activity Plan and therefore is off limits to oil and gas leasing.

ConocoPhillips is advancing its two mid-sized Greater Mooses Tooth oil developments in the eastern NPR-A and last January announced a 300 million-barrel oil discovery it calls Willow in the same general area.

Preliminary production forecast calls for third year of increase

A preliminary oil production and revenue forecast released Wednesday calls for a third straight year of increased production on the North Slope. The state Revenue Department is estimating production of 533,000 barrels per day in the current fiscal year 2018, or just more than a 1 percent increase versus the 524,000 barrels produced per day in fiscal year 2017.

“Compared to the department’s previous forecast, this preliminary fall forecast represents a modest decline in forecasted oil prices combined with a material increase to the oil production forecast, leading to an overall increase in expected revenue during most of the forecast period," Revenue Commissioner Sheldon Fisher said. "Alaskans should be pleased with the potential of these new developments to stabilize Alaska’s oil production and add to our economy.”

Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected].

10/25/2017 - 2:16pm