The state’s Cook Inlet areawide 2007 oil and gas lease sale will be held May 23 in Anchorage.
The Alaska Division of Oil and Gas said Feb. 21 that the commissioner of Natural Resources has issued a supplement to the best interest finding for the sale, available on the division’s Web page at www.dog.dnr.state.ak.us/oil/. The supplement adds a mitigation measure related to Steller’s eiders: lease related activities shall be restricted or modified “if scientific evidence documents the presence of Steller’s eiders from the Alaska breeding population in the lease area and it is determined that oil and gas exploration and development will impact them or their over-wintering habitat in the near-shore waters of Cook Inlet.”
Mitigation measures would change if beluga whale listed
The Cook Inlet beluga whale is listed as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and has been classified as a species of concern by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The division said NMFS is reviewing the status of this population “to determine the need for listing under the Endangered Species Act and is expected to issue a decision in April 2007.” If the beluga whale is listed, additional mitigation measures or restrictions would be imposed on relevant tracts “to minimize impacts to the beluga whale in accordance with the law.”
The Cook Inlet areawide sale area encompasses some 4 million acres divided into 815 tracts in the Matanuska and Susitna valleys, the Anchorage bowl and western and southern Kenai Peninsula from Point Possession to Anchor Point, on the western shore of Cook Inlet from the Beluga River to Harriet Point and within Cook Inlet.
Bids are due May 21. There is a minimum $10 per acre cash bonus bid on all tracts; all leases will have a fixed royalty rate of 12.5 percent. Length of leases is either five or seven years, depending on tract location.