The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is expecting to hold its annual sale of oil and gas lease tracts in the Beaufort Sea, North Slope and North Slope Foothills on Nov. 7. The sale area encompasses 14.7 million acres, an area the size of Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut combined.

Sale terms and conditions were revised last year to encourage timely exploration and production from state land. The 2011 lease sale netted more than 300 bids for North Slope and Beaufort tracts, with a total high bid value of $21 million, DNR said (see Daily GPI, Dec. 9, 2011).

"This is a great opportunity to increase investment and responsible resource development in Alaska," said DNR's Dan Sullivan, natural resources commissioner.

The hydrocarbon potential of state, federal and private lands in the North Slope region, both onshore and offshore, is enormous, DNR said. "Approximately 40 billion barrels of conventional oil and more than 200 Tcf of conventional natural gas remain untapped, according to federal estimates of undiscovered, technically-recoverable resources."

The region also is estimated to contain tens of billions of barrels of unconventional oil (heavy, viscous and shale) and hundreds of Tcf of unconventional gas. The U.S. Geological Survey recently estimated that the North Slope's undiscovered, technically recoverable shale resources could be as great as 2 billion bbl of oil and 80 Tcf of gas.

Similar to last year, the state's lease sale will include tracts adjacent to federal acreage in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA). The Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease sale is tentatively set for Nov. 7.

Bids must be received no later than 4 p.m. AST Nov. 5. The public bid opening will begin at 9 a.m. on Nov. 7 at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center in downtown Anchorage. For more details regarding the lease sale, visit http://dog.dnr.alaska.gov/.

Last week more than 60 members of Congress wrote to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar protesting the inclusion of Arctic sales in the federal government's proposed five-year leasing plan for the Outer Continental Shelf. While "we are very pleased that the final proposed program does not allow oil and gas development in the Atlantic, Pacific or North Aleutian Basin...we disagree with [Interior's] decision to permit lease sales in the Arctic in the final proposed program" for 2012-2017, said the group of lawmakers (see Daily GPI, Aug. 16).

Separately, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell appealed recently to Salazar to end delays in permitting energy development activity on Point Thomson (see Daily GPI, Aug. 15). And Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, attacked the Obama administration's proposed plan to manage oil and gas development in the NPRA (see Daily GPI, Aug. 14).

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