Oil & Gas Lease Sale for Scheduled for ANWR
Thirty-two tracts are available for bids in the upcoming ANWR lease sale.
By the end of the year there’s going to be an oil and gas lease sale in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)—and it’s been a long time coming.
Alaska’s congressional delegation has been fighting to open the 1002 Area of ANWR to development for decades; in late 2017, Congress passed HR 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which included language that finally allowed federal agencies to start the process of an oil and gas lease sale in the coastal plain of ANWR.
The final EIS for energy development in ANWR was published almost two years later in September 2019, and a Record of Decision (ROD) approving the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program was signed by US Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhard in August of this year.
“This is a capstone moment in our decades-long push to allow for the responsible development of a small part of Alaska’s 1002 Area,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski in August, and Senator Dan Sullivan characterized the announcement as “historic progress… for Alaskan jobs and our economy.”
“The ROD released [August 17, 2020] is a crucial milestone in our efforts to make the 1002 Area’s vast oil reserves available for development. Thousands of Alaskans are employed in our oil industry, and their livelihoods depend on the good-paying jobs created by our state’s reserves,” said Representative Don Young.
But even the ROD wasn’t the final step.
That took place on December 7, when an official notice of sale for leases in ANWR was published to the Federal Register along with a Detailed Statement of Sale that outlines the lease sale process and requirements for interested parties.
According to the Statement of Sale, bids on the thirty-two lease sale tracts available must be submitted to the Bureau of Land Management between 8 a.m. on December 21 and 4 p.m. on December 31, 2020.
Bids that are submitted within the timeframe and meet all of the requirements will be opened and read via video livestream on January 6, 2021 on the Bureau of Land Management’s website.
Assuming there’s interest and the bids submitted by qualified bidders meet minimum requirements, the leases issued as a result of the sale will have a primary term of ten years and a fixed royalty rate of 16.67 percent, with a rental rate and minimum royalty of $10 per acre.
Acreage of the thirty-two available tracts ranges from approximately 23,000 acres to nearly 60,000, and the minimum bid for any tract is $25 per acre.
According to BLM, 92 percent of the refuge remains completely off-limits to development, and the ROD established operating procedures and lease stipulations to mitigate impacts to important resources, “including extensive protections for wildlife such as caribou and polar bears.”
While the success of the sale will be unknown until early January, the opportunity for a lease sale is positive news for Alaska’s oil and gas industry, which was gearing up for busy year in 2020 until the COVID-19 pandemic put the breaks on almost everything.
Starting the new year with new opportunity on the North Slope is a rare positive indication for Alaska’s economic recovery.
“Oil and gas from the Coastal Plain is an important resource for meeting our Nation’s long-term energy demands and will help create jobs and economic opportunities,” said BLM Alaska State Director Chad Padgett. “The law makes oil and gas development one of the purposes of the refuge, clearly directing the Secretary, acting through the Bureau of Land Management, to carry out a competitive leasing program for the potentially energy rich Coastal Plain.”
Tasha Anderson is the Associate/Web Editor for Alaska Business.
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