Murkowski: State Offer Proves More Attractive in Dueling Lease Sales

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today congratulated state officials in Alaska for this week’s successful petroleum lease sale, which netted the state nearly $21 million in high bids.

“The state’s successful sale clearly sends the message that Alaska is open for business,” Murkowski said. “Unfortunately, because of the problems with the federal permitting process there was a lot less interest in the federal sale.” 

Wednesday’s offer of state-owned acreage on the North Slope, the North Slope Foothills and along the Beaufort Sea coastline near ANWR, resulted in preliminary bids on 256 tracts covering 616,064 acres.

By contrast, a federal lease sale in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska held the same day received only $3 million in bids for 141,739 acres. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offered 283 tracts comprising some 3 million acres in the sale. The agency chose to offer only acreage in or around acres that have previously been developed.

Given the lackluster response and the fact that the state sale earned seven times that of the federal sale, Murkowski said she considered the federal sale disappointing.

“The main difference between these sales was that Alaska made all of its un-leased acreage available and that the state’s permitting process is both reasonable and transparent,” Murkowski said. “Given the facts, it’s no surprise that the state sale outperformed the federal sale, even though the federal government has twice as much land in Alaska than the state itself has.” 

Murkowski said interest in the NPR-A sale was weak because of negative experiences with the federal permitting process and the fact that federal officials failed to offer the most prospective acreage for lease.

“Had the BLM offered acreage that was more attractive and under a more certain regulatory regime, the sale could have garnered far greater interest and possibly earned hundreds of millions of dollars in bids,” Murkowski said.