Alaskan Lease Sale Results Disappointing

The Alaskan North Slope and Cook Inlet Area-Wide 2003 lease sale drew a combined total of 29 bids. The North Slope sale only drew one bid from EnCana on tract NSF 2003-0136 for $36,576. The Cook Inlet sale drew a total of 28 bids with 27 tracts being sold.

Even though the North Slope region is considered speculative for gas exploration, the state had expected more bids, said Bonnie Robson, deputy director of the Alaska Division of Oil and Gas. "Our past experience would indicate that there is great interest in the geology of that area," Robson said. "With only one company bidding on one tract, we have some concerns." EnCana is one of eight companies and partnerships that have submitted bids in past state lease sales for the hilly terrain that lies well south of the Prudhoe Bay. Robson said the Division of Oil and Gas plans to survey industry officials and the public about the apparent lack of interest in new leasing there.

For the offshore and onshore areas of the Cook Inlet basin near Anchorage the high bids for 27 tracts totaled $887,042.60. Bidders included Prodigy Oil & Gas LLC, Marathon Oil Corp., Forest Oil Corp., Pelican Hill Oil & Gas Inc., Unocal Corp. and a handful of individual investors bidding in partnership. The bids by Texas-based Prodigy, if cleared by state officials, will add about 20,000 acres to about 14,000 acres already held in northern Cook Inlet, said Mark Landt, vice president for land and new business ventures. The company wants to look for both oil and gas in the area, and is seeking a partner to help finance drilling, said Landt, who attended Wednesday's lease sale.