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Vol. 16, No. 25 Week of June 19, 2011
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

BLM announces accelerated oil & gas lease sales program in NPR-A

Following a mid-May statement by President Obama, announcing an intent to increase U.S. domestic energy production, including a plan to conduct annual oil and gas lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, on June 16 the U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced that it plans hold an NPR-A lease sale by the end of 2011and annually after that.

The agency had previously anticipated waiting until completion of a new NPR-A integrated activity plan before scheduling the next lease sale in the reserve, with that lease sale likely to take place 2013. The newly emerging lease sale program, which is accompanied by deepwater lease extensions for Gulf of Mexico operators impacted by the Deepwater Horizon disaster, moves NPR-A leasing forward by up to two years.

“As part of President Obama’s comprehensive energy strategy, Interior is moving ahead with these concrete steps to continue to expand responsible and safe domestic oil production,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar when announcing the new initiatives.

Nominations

BLM said that in the near future it will publish a Federal Register notice announcing a 30-day comment period for its new NPR-A lease sale program. Ruth McCoard, deputy chief, BLM Office of Communications, told Petroleum News June 16 that the Federal Register notice will reference a map showing land tracts that BLM may offer in its 2011 lease sale. Those tracts would be in the more northerly part of the reserve, in areas where lease sales have previously been planned, McCoard said. BLM will invite industry nominations for areas of exploration interest, as well as inviting general public comments on the sale proposal. The agency will then use the nominations and public comments to decide on which tracts to actually include in the lease sale, she said.

In the past year or so BLM directors have indicated that future NPR-A lease sales may focus on specific areas where industry has expressed particular interest, rather than offering tracts across broad expanses of the reserve, as in the past.

—Alan Bailey



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