Cook Inlet Lease Sale Going Ahead Under New Law

Cook Inlet Lease Sale Going Ahead Under New Law
The Proposed Notice of Sale for Lease Sale 258 in Cook Inlet, Alaska, will be going ahead under the Inflation Reduction Act.

The Department of the Interior has announced that the Proposed Notice of Sale for Lease Sale 258 in Cook Inlet, Alaska, will be going ahead under the Inflation Reduction Act.

As a result of the new Act, Congress directed that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to hold the Lease Sale 258 by December 31, 2022. 

BOEM will propose to offer up to 224 blocks toward the northern part of the Cook Inlet Planning Area, from roughly Kalgin Island in the north to Augustine Island in the south, in water depths ranging from 33 to 260 feet.

BOEM released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Lease Sale 258 in October 2021, and a final EIS and Record of Decision will be published later this fall. A Final Notice of Sale will be published at least 30 days before the date of the sale. 

As the Department implements the IRA, it will conduct robust environmental reviews and strong engagement with local, state, and Tribal governments, stakeholders, community leaders, and the American public.

This is the second Lease Sale that came into focus recently. Namely, BOEM accepted 307 highest valid bids from Lease Sale 257 in the Gulf of Mexico last week. The lease sale was held in November 2021, but a federal judge invalidated the results in February of this year.

Initially, the court rejected a plan to lease millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico for offshore oil drilling, saying the Biden administration did not adequately consider the lease sale’s effect on greenhouse gas emissions, violating a bedrock environmental law.

Now, a new judgment sent the proposed lease sale back to the Interior Department to decide the next steps. The judgment meant that it was up to the Interior to decide whether to go forward with the sale after a revised review, scrap it, or take other steps.

Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 257, the eighth offshore sale held under the 2017-2022 National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program, offered approximately 15,148 unleased blocks located from three to 231 miles offshore, in the Gulf’s Western, Central and Eastern Planning Areas in water depths ranging from nine to more than 11,115 feet.

It generated $191,688,984 in high bids for 308 tracts covering 1.7 million acres in federal Gulf of Mexico waters. A total of 33 companies participated in the lease sale, submitting $198,511,834 in total bids.

Although 308 tracts were initially awarded in the sale for a total of almost $192 million to energy companies including Shell, BP, Chevron, and Exxon, BOEM said in its latest statement that it accepted 307 highest bids worth $189,888,271.

To contact the author, email bojan.lepic@rigzone.com


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