AD Main Menu

Big chunk of Arctic terrain up for oil, gas leases

Alex DeMarban

The state will offer oil and gas investors an additional 200,000 acres at an oil and gas lease sale of Arctic land.

Set for early December in Anchorage's Dena'ina Center, the state is offering investors some 14.7 million acres in the near-shore Beaufort Sea, the North Slope and the North Slope Foothills.

Bids will be taken on Dec. 5 and opened two days later, the state Department of Natural Resources announced. Extra land will be available near Point Thomson and in the Beaufort Sea, thanks to lease expirations and other administrative actions.

Point Thomsom has been the focus of a six-year fight with Exxon Mobil, the unit operator at Point Thomson. It is thought to contain roughly a quarter of the North Slope's 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Some in industry believe Point Thomson’s gas reserves are what make a North Slope gasline feasible.

During the administration of Gov. Frank Murkowski in 2005, the Department of Natural Resources began taking steps to break up the Point Thomson unit, frustrated by the lack of production, despite Point Thomson’s discovery in the late 1970s.

"The lease sale will make available eight tracts formerly part of the Point Thomson unit and 22 tracts that were previously deferred due to their proximity to the unit. These 30 tracts increase the available acreage by 72,000 acres," the statement said.

Forty-five tracts totaling 106,000 acres that were previously included in the proposed Greater Bullen Unit west of Point Thomson also will be available.

Also, "Five leases from the previously proposed Donkel Oil and Gas Unit in the Beaufort Sea, north of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, have expired, making an additional 14,403 acres available for the sale," the release said.   

For more information on the December lease sale, including the sale notice, sale announcements, instructions to bidders and tract maps, visit http://dog.dnr.alaska.gov/.