Alaska Announces 5-Year Oil & Gas Leasing Program

Alaska has unveiled its 5-year, 20-sale area-wide leasing program for state oil and gas acreage. Through the area-wide leasing program, the state plans to offer all available state land within a geographic region. Between now and 2006, the state is proposing to hold five sales each in the Cook Inlet, Beaufort Sea, North Slope, and North Slope Foothills areas. The Cook Inlet and North Slope Foothills sales would be in May and the North Slope and Beaufort Sea sales in October.

In 2001, Alaska leased 334 tracts in four sales for $26.5 million in bonus bids. Since the program was started in 1998, the state has leased over 3 million acres and taken in over $91 million in bonus bids This has been a highly successful program, and the aggressive schedule laid out is in response to the keen interest industry has demonstrated for exploration in Alaska. Our schedule provides the predictability desired by industry. It also allows for public input during the fall and winter months, when residents of these areas have more time to focus on the issues.

2002 will be the first year in over a decade that North Slope oil production will be on the rise as production begins from the BP-operated Northstar project and because of new discoveries and new activity in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

The Alaskan Governor is urging the federal government to approve development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and a pipeline to produce Alaska's gas reserves. "There's no other place in America with the huge quantity of oil our nation needs than beneath a small portion of ANWR coastal plain," Knowles said. "This environmentally responsible development will create tens of thousands of jobs in Alaska and throughout America. We must keep the full court press working with our congressional delegation, the national administration, and the forceful coalition of business and labor to open ANWR this year. Development of our enormous North Slope natural gas resources is also at the top of every national energy plan. Now the question of building an Alaska gas line is not 'if' but 'when'."