Less that spectacular

No matter how you dress it up, the recent, first-ever, ballyhooed oil and gas lease sale in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was less than spectacular despite politicians calling it “historic” and “tremendous.”

After 40 years of concerted state and private efforts and millions of dollars being spent in pursuit of opening a portion of the 19 million-acre refuge’s coastal plain to exploration, the oil industry took a powder during the sale and the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority was the sale’s primary bidder.

Only half of the 22 tracts offered by the federal government even drew bids. The state-owned investment authority won nine of the tracts, with two small companies each picking up one. The tracts drew $14.4 million in bids, mostly from AIDEA.

AIDEA’s executive director, Alan Weitzner said in a statement that in winning the tracts, “Alaska preserves the right to responsibly develop its natural resources.” Federal estimates put the amount of oil available in ANWR in the billions of barrels.

A variety of factors such as low oil prices, the incoming Biden administration – expected to be no friend to drilling in ANWR – regulatory uncertainty and large banks’ reluctance to finance Arctic oil projects likely all worked to dampen industry enthusiasm.

Whether Alaska – a state that depends on resource development – can eventually partner with the oil industry to develop the leases in the future remains unseen, but the lease sale was nothing short of disappointing.

2 Responses to Less that spectacular

  1. Troy F January 9, 2021 at 5:22 pm

    Wondering if I’m missing something here: The State of Alaska just secured the right to develop oil in ANWR for pennies on the dollar, and this is disappointing? It seems brilliant to me.

  2. R-Dubya January 8, 2021 at 2:06 pm

    The author on this narrative sounds rather ‘disappointed’ but, given the historical disparaging treatment and lack of respect — appreciation of Big Oil (as well as what importance Big Oil brings to the Alaskan economy), it seems to me that they’ve basically taken their bag of marbles elsewhere, as well as the opportunities.
    This outcome was completely foreseeable and ‘no’ surprise to me at all.


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