Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
August 2017

Vol. 22, No. 33 Week of August 13, 2017

Broad NPR-A info call

BLM includes tracts unavailable for leasing in call for nominations, comments

Kristen Nelson

Petroleum News

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management has issued a call for nominations and comments for the 2017 National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska lease sale.

The call, however, includes the entire NPR-A.

In an Aug. 7 Federal Register notice, BLM said the call was for “all unleased tracts ... including tracts currently unavailable for leasing under the 2013 NPR-A Integrated Activity Plan.”

Only unleased tracts included in the 2013 NPR-A Integrated Activity Plan will be offered at the 2017 lease sale.

The request for nominations and comments over the entire NPR-A is apparently the first step in actions ordered by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke May 31, which included preparation of a schedule for revising the Integrated Activity Plan for NPA-A (see story in June 4 issue of Petroleum News).

“Offering all tracts for nomination is in response to the Secretary’s Order and will jump-start Alaskan energy production in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska,” said Katherine MacGregor, acting assistant secretary for Lands and Minerals Management. “The information provided during this nomination process will help in the review of the current Integrated Activity Plan to ensure it contains an appropriate balance of promoting development while protecting surface resources,” MacGregor said.

Nominations and comments are due Sept. 6.

2013 plan

Under the 2013 Integrated Activity Plan 11.8 million acres, 52 percent of NPR-A, are available for leasing, with some 10.3 million acres available for nomination and comment in this lease sale.

There are some 22.8 million acres in NPR-A. The call for nominations also solicits interest in the remaining 11 million acres which are currently unavailable for leasing.

BLM said that while only tracts available for leasing will be offered in the 2017 sale, the request for comments and nominations on all tracts, “allows industry to provide information to aid in determining which areas to potentially open for leasing that are currently closed.”

Areas currently unavailable for leasing include the southern portion of NPR-A, an area in which tracts have not even been designated, and a broad swathe on the northeastern edge of NPR-A around Teshekpuk Lake which has been broken into tracts and which lies to the northwest of areas currently under development.

A map showing tracts and areas available and unavailable for leasing is at www.blm.gov/programs/energy-and-minerals/oil-and-gas/leasing/regional-lease-sales/alaska.

189 tracts under lease

BLM’s list of current NPR-A lessees, updated in April, shows 189 tracts under lease, some 1.4 million acres, with the majority, 146 leases, 953,277 acres, held by a partnership of ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc., 78 percent, and Anadarko E&P Onshore LLC, 22 percent.

ConocoPhillips is in the process of developing Greater Mooses Tooth 1 in NPR-A, with production projected in 2018, is permitting Greater Mooses Tooth 2 and has announced a discovery of some 300 million barrels of recoverable oil at the Willow prospect at the western edge of the Greater Mooses Tooth unit.

Other lessees hold smaller interests in NPR-A.

London-based Golden Eagle Petroleum Ltd. holds 17 leases, some 194,581 acres. A partnership of Armstrong Energy LLC, 67.5 percent, Repsol E&P USA Inc., 25 percent, and GMT Exploration Company LLC, 7.5 percent, holds 11 tracts, 62,044 acres, with Armstrong holding 100 percent interest in an additional single lease.

NordAq Energy holds seven leases, 79,792 acres, and NordAq holds a 25 percent interest in two additional leases in which Caelus Energy Alaska Smith Bay holds a 75 percent interest, 22,771 acres.

Paul Craig and Peter Zamarello each hold 50 percent interest in two tracts, 22,994 acres, with Craig 25 percent, Zamarello 50 percent and Paul Gardener 25 percent holding an additional 12,429-acre tract. Renaissance Umiat holds two tracts, 17,633 acres.

The most recent NPR-A lease sale, last December, drew 92 bids on 67 tracts from five companies or bidding groups, with apparent high bids totaling $18.8 million.

ConocoPhillips, bidding by itself on four tracts and in partnership this Anadarko on 61 tracts, dominated the sale, appearing to be filling in a large block of available acreage between existing lease positions, moving west.

By comparison, BLM drew only six bids in its 2015 sale, all from ConocoPhillips.

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