Salazar announces expedited NPR-A lease sale by yearend

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, June 17 -- The US Bureau of Land Management will accelerate a lease sale within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska so that it will take place before the end of 2011, with subsequent lease sales annually, US Sec. of the Interior Ken Salazar said. BLM will publish a Federal Register notice in the near future inviting interested parties to comment on or nominate possible tracts within the vast area on Alaska’s North Slope.

Salazar’s announcement came as the US House Natural Resources Committee’s Energy and Minerals Subcommittee held a hearing on a bill to improve access to oil and gas resources within the reserve. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), the full committee’s chairman and HR 2150’s sponsor, said requiring annual NPR-A lease sales was a good step, but it would not be enough if other federal agencies block and delay permits for the necessary roads, bridges, and pipelines to get the oil and gas out of the reserve.

In his written testimony, Joe Balash, deputy commissioner of Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources, said Alaska considers leasing within NPR-A a logical first step in expanding oil and gas development on federally controlled state land. He said in his written testimony that possibly the most ambitious feature of Hastings’ bill is its call for approved rights-of-way for roads, pipelines, and other surface infrastructure to ensure all leases are within 25 miles of the state’s approved route plans.

But Deputy BLM Director Mike Pool said Interior was concerned about several of HR 2150’s provisions, including a requirement that the secretary consult with the US Department of Transportation on all surface disturbance instead of only major roads and pipelines; a requirement that the secretary ensure that other federal permitting agencies meet the bill’s deadlines; and an implication that all requested permits must be issued regardless of a proposed action’s potential impacts or the availability of alternatives.

Also testifying were US Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.), the Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s ranking minority member; Charles T. Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association; Tim Sharp, business manager and secretary-treasurer of the Alaska District Council of Laborers in Anchorage; and Eric Myers, policy director of Audubon Alaska in Anchorage.

Salazar also said he would issue a secretarial memorandum directing the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement to issue a notice to lessees and operators describing how operators can seek a 1-year extension of qualifying offshore leases.

He said to qualify, leaseholders must demonstrate that there was no oil or gas production on the lease as of May 15, 2011; that the lease is in deep water (greater than 500 ft); and that the lease is scheduled to expire on or before Dec. 31, 2015. The extensions will give operators and lessees more time to proceed with exploration and development of their tracts while fully complying with new safety, environmental, spill response, and containment requirements, Salazar said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

NGSA asks Congress to pass bills facilitating LNG exports

03/27/2014 The Natural Gas Supply Association called on Congress to support legislation that would facilitate more LNG exports. “Exporting LNG overseas will h...

IHS: Western sanctions indirectly could hinder Russian oil, gas revenues

03/27/2014 Western sanctions imposed against Russian government officials and business executives regarding Russia’s conflict with Ukraine could slow the avai...

US, European energy leaders to discuss gas diversification measures

03/27/2014 Top US government energy officials and their counterparts from other G7 nations will meet early next week to discuss reducing Europe’s heavy relian...

EPA leads investigation of crude discharge at BP Whiting refinery

03/26/2014 The US Environmental Protection Agency took formal charge of investigation and cleanup efforts after an undetermined amount of crude oil spilled in...

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected