The U.S. Department of the Interior announced today that the Bureau of Land Management will hold a National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska oil and gas lease sale on Aug. 11 2010. The sale will include tracts in northeastern NPR-A and part of northwestern NPR-A, but Interior did not offer any specific information about which parcels of land would be included in the sale.
“We know that we have appropriate parcels that we have already considered and approved that will go forward, but we have not made a final determination of which other parcels may be included,” said BLM Director Bob Abbey.
The NPR-A lease sale announcement came as part of an announcement by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar of a schedule of 38 lease sales for onshore U.S. public lands in 2010. Salazar emphasized that the lease sale program comes as part of a national energy strategy that includes offshore wind exploration in the Atlantic, large-scale solar energy projects in the Southwest, and the construction of a national electricity transmission super highway.
“President Obama also believes that conventional resources, including oil, gas and coal, remain a vital component of a comprehensive energy plan,” Salazar said. “That is why I am pleased today to announce that our onshore oil and gas lease schedule for 2010 is ready to go.”
The lease sale program focuses on development in the right way, in the right places and with a fair return for the American taxpayer, he said, lambasting oil and gas trade groups that, he said, have been spreading untruths and launching attacks “that have all the poisons and deception of electioneering politics.”
He said that most energy companies are responsible developers and employers, and that Interior works with many of these companies to encourage best management practices, reclaim land and invest in conservation.
“We want oil and gas companies to engage with us, and to be our partners in our energy future,” he said.
Salazar also said that Interior is reviewing how to make its programs more efficient and rational, in the face of disputes over oil and gas leases.
“Too many leases from the federal government that are offered today and accepted by the companies get tied up in protests and in litigation,” Salazar said.
Chevron Corp. subsidiary Union Oil Company of California is permitting development of natural gas resources at the Birch Hill unit. Birch Hill, also referred to as the North Swanson River satellite, is on the Kenai Peninsula.
The company said in its plan of operations that while the plan addresses the development and production phases of the project, “the production phase will only occur if commercially viable quantities of hydrocarbons are discovered in the area.”
Birch Hill has a shut-in Tyonek formation gas well.
Planned work includes vegetation clearing and road construction in the fall and winter of 2009; well testing and drilling in the winter and spring of 2010; and facility construction in the spring and summer of 2010.
The North Swanson River satellite includes the Birch Hill unit, a one-well field, and the land between Birch Hill and the Swanson River field boundaries. In addition to installation of a gravel access road and pipelines to tie the existing Birch Hill well into the Swanson River field, if reserves warrant a second pad location would be built along the right of way for drilling and production activities.
See stories in Nov. 29 issue, available online at noon, Friday Nov. 27 at www.PetroleumNews.com