Alaska to open sale of nearly 15 million acres for oil, gas drilling leases

By Dorothy Davis

The state of Alaska has announced plans to sell nearly 15 million acres of state-owned land and waters potentially holding billions of barrels of oil for drilling leases.

Governor Sean Parnell and Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan discussed the sale at a Washington, D.C., press conference held by the Institute for 21st Century Energy at the US Chamber of Commerce.

The lease sale will be held Oct. 26, 2011 and will involve 2 million acres in the Beaufort Sea, 5.1 million acres on the North Slope and 7.6 million acres in the North Slope foothills.

A fact sheet presented at the briefing outlined the Central North Slope’s undeveloped acreage still holds 3 to 6 billion barrels of oil and 24 to 45 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to federal estimates of the region’s undiscovered, technically-recoverable resources. The undiscovered resources on state land include dozens of pools of conventional oil that range in size from 50 to 150 million barrels, tens of billions of barrels of heavy and viscous oil, and potentially enormous shale oil deposits.

These estimates do not include the more than 5 billion barrels of conventional oil reserves that lie under producing fields or fields that are close to being placed into production.

“For nearly 35 years, Alaska has been one of the most critical sources of domestic energy for American citizens, via the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline. More than 15 billion barrels of oil from Alaska’s North Slope have been produced for the Lower 48 since TAPS’ creation. We are laying out a plan to enhance America’s energy security by aggressively marketing additional state lands for development,” Sullivan said following the briefing.

“I applaud Governor Parnell and Commissioner Sullivan for stepping up to the plate to help deliver American energy that we so clearly need,” said Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the US Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. “Alaska is acting to address our supply problems because the federal government has not. I hope that policymakers in Washington will take notice of the example set by Alaska’s leaders by allowing more access to our oil and gas resources which will create jobs and improve our energy security.”

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