A National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska lease sale will be held in the fall, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management said today in announcing a record of decision on the NPR-A supplemental final plan, released in mid-May.
“This action sets the stage for a major lease sale this fall. This is welcome news at a time when Americans are paying record prices at the pump,” said C. Stephen Allred, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals, in signing the record of decision.
BLM has not yet determined an exact sale date — the sale could take place as early as September but would most likely occur in mid-October, BLM Alaska State Director Tom Lonnie told a press conference today.
“It’ll be in September or October,” Lonnie said.
Environmental groups brought suit against a 2006 northeast NPR-A lease sale which included a highly prospective but environmentally sensitive area north of Teshekpuk Lake. As a result of the suit, there was a court injunction on the sale and BLM only offered tracts in the northwest, returning unopened the bids it received for the northeast.
The development of the new supplemental final plan followed a court decision that BLM’s 2005 Northeast NPR-A amended integrated activity plan/environmental impact statement failed to adequately address cumulative impacts.
The supplemental final plan defers leasing for 10 years in the area north and east of Teshekpuk Lake and includes performance-based stipulations for environmental protections in leased areas.
Lonnie said that BLM estimates the possibility of 3 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the section of northeast NPR-A which will become available for leasing.
“We’ve worked closely with our concerned citizens in Alaska to reach a decision that we thought was very balanced and to try to meet the needs of the country by making these resources available for potential development,” said BLM Deputy Director Henri Bisson.
The 2008 lease sale will potentially include unleased land in both northeast and northwest NPR-A, Bisson said.
See full story in July 20 issue of Petroleum News, available to subscribers online at noon, Friday, July 18 at www.PetroleumNews.com