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Oil Drillers Give Cold Shoulder To Alaska Bidding Round

U.S. officials said a lease sale including newly offered lands from Arctic Alaska for oil drilling did not draw very many bids, according to a Reuters report.

Seven bids were received in total, encompassing roundly 80,000 acres, which translates to less a percent of the 10.3 million acres made available in the state’s National Petroleum Reserve under the Trump administration’s orders. The lease was the largest of its kind since 1999.

“Today’s lease sale shows once again the fuzzy Arctic refuge math by the Trump administration and congressional Republicans,” Kristen Miller of the Alaska Wilderness League told Alaska Dispatch News.

“There’s simply no market for oil leasing in the Arctic,” a spokesman for Democrats on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources added.

Alaska’s natural resources commissioner disagrees with this analysis, however. Andy Mack said a comparison between the failed NPR-A leasing round and future rounds in untouched areas was premature.

“The biggest point is this is wide open, with not one existing lease in this area,” Mack said.

Related: The 'Mega' Oil Field That Will Never Boom

The Department of the Interior is trying to expedite drilling permits in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, to the ire of environmentalists. Vincent DeVito, energy advisor to the Secretary of the Interior, told S&P Global Platts that the government would continue its environmental stewardship of the land despite the drilling. The latest effort would open eight percent of the refuge’s lands to oil and gas exploration.

Alaska’s congressional delegation is desperate to find a new source of oil supply because the state’s output has been in long-term decline for decades. Production peaked at just over 2 million barrels per day in the late 1980s, but has declined since then. For much of this year, the state’s output stood at just over 500,000 bpd.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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