By the OGJ Editors
WASHINGTON, DC, June 4 -- The Bureau of Land Management's latest lease sale in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska generated winning bids totaling $63.8 million on 60 tracts totaling 579,269 acres, the agency said June 3.
The agency offered close to 300 tracts totaling 3 million acres.
It was the second sale in NPR-A since the government resumed leasing there in 1999.
Per federal law, the state of Alaska will receive 50% of the proceeds.
BLM said it expects TotalFinaElf E&P USA Inc., a subsidiary of TotalFinaElf SA, to hold the six highest bids, accounting for about 83% of the money raised by the sale.
Notably absent from the sale was BP PLC, a company active in the last NPR-A lease sale in 1999. Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Phillips Petroleum Co., and BP later drilled exploration wells in 2001 and 2002, with encouraging results.
Since the last sale, the US Geological Survey updated its own reserve estimates, predicting a dramatic increase in economically recoverable reserves (OGJ Online, May 17, 2002).
This time, eight companies participated in the sale, including Phillips and Anadarko.
The two companies, already active in the reserve, submitted their bids jointly. BLM said it expects the companies will be awarded 34 tracts with winning bids of $9.6 million.
The 34 tracts cover more than 282,000 gross acres and are located primarily west of the companies' Moose's Tooth discovery, Anadarko noted after the sale.
"This additional acreage in the NPR-A will allow us to continue our exploration momentum westward across the petroleum reserve, to examine new ideas and explore new stratigraphic intervals," said John Seitz, Anadarko president and chief executive officer.
"Alaska is an important frontier exploration area. Anadarko is one of the largest acreage holders on the North Slope, and these new tracts further enhance our prospect inventory," Seitz said.
With this sale, Anadarko's leasehold in NPR-A will total 277,500 net acres. Across the North Slope of Alaska, Anadarko has access to 1.9 million net acres through current and pending leases or options, the company said.
Other companies with apparent winning bids include a unit of the Canadian company EnCana Corp., which got a total of five tracts with a combined total winning bid of $920,000.
Alaska investors Paul L. Craig and Pete Zamarello were the apparent high bidder on one tract, offering $83,491, beating out the independent Arctic Falcon Exploration LLC.