About 1.1 million acres were leased in Wednesday's state lease sale, topping the previous state record of about 850,000 acres. Gov. Tony Knowles said the sale bodes well for the state. "I am especially pleased to see such aggressive interest from a relatively new player in Alaska," he said in a statement. "It shows that interest in Alaska's oil and gas resources is not limited to the major owners of the facilities on the North Slope." Wednesday's Brooks Range foothills lease sale grossed $10.26 million for the state, according to preliminary results. The sale offered 7.65 million acres (3 million hectares), with 1,347 tracts sprawling from the western boundary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the southeastern corner of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. The region is well south of Prudhoe Bay and other existing oil fields. Preliminary results show that tracts were won by Petro-Canada, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which bid alone and in partnership with EnCana Corp., and Unocal Corp.
In addition to leasing land in the Brooks Range foothills, the state unsealed bids for 20 tracts in the Cook Inlet basin, the oil-producing region near Anchorage. High bids in the Cook Inlet sale totaled $581,290, according to preliminary results released by the Division of Oil and Gas. Successful bidders included Forest Oil Corp., Marathon Oil Corp., Northstar Energy Corp. and a handful of individual investors, according to preliminary results. Additional Cook Inlet bids may be considered, pending a state court decision about tracts that were withheld from the sale because of concerns for beluga-whale habitat. Final results for both sales will be issued soon.