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September 26, 2001 --- Vol. 7, No. 124September 2001

Mental Health Trust leases 40,000 acres in Cook Inlet

The Alaska Mental Health Land Office received nine bids Sept. 26 for eight tracts in its 2001 Northern Cook Inlet basin oil and gas lease sale, attracting two independents, one new to Alaska, and the state's major coalbed methane player.

The total of apparent high bids was $364,696.72, an average of $9.10 an acre for 40,095 acres.

"This is really a milestone for us at The Trust Land Office," said Trust Senior Resource Manager Mike Franger, "because this is the first sale that we've conducted out of The Trust Land Office on our own." Franger said the other trust acreage has been offered in the past, but as part of Division of Oil and Gas sales.

The Trust said areas of interest appeared to be associated with ongoing coalbed methane exploration activities in the Wasilla-Houston area and natural gas exploration activities on the west side of Cook Inlet.

The Sept. 26 lease sale included 200,000 acres, 37 tracts, of land in the Cook Inlet basin, a large portion of the Cook Inlet acreage owned by the Trust. Future sales will include acreage not leased in this sale, including Trust lands on the Kenai Peninsula.

The Trust Land Office intends to offer Trust lands for oil and gas leasing on an annual basis similar to the state's areawide lease sale program.

Pelican Hill Oil & Gas Inc. of San Clemente, Calif., a new bidder to the state, was apparent high bidder on five tracts for a total of $258,359 for 25,187 acres. Three of the tracts are north of Tyonek west of the Phillips Alaska Inc.-operated Beluga River gas field on the west side of Cook Inlet. The other two tracts are west of Tyonek, one at Granite Point and the other west-northwest of Tyonek near Nikolai Creek.

Evergreen Resources Inc., which took over the Unocal Pioneer gas unit in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, picked up three tracts in that area: one north of Palmer, one in the Houston area and one northwest of Wasilla. Evergreen bid a total of $106,337.72 for 14,908 acres.

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