‘Largest ever’ drilling lease sale in Alaska yields few bids

‘Largest ever’ drilling lease sale in Alaska yields few bids
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A lease sale for oil and gas drilling rights in Alaska — deemed the largest there by the Trump administration — produced bids for only seven tracts of land and garnered only $1.16 million in revenue, officials announced late Wednesday.

The Bureau of Land Management auctioned 900 tracts of land in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, totaling 10.3 million acres, for oil and gas drilling rights this week.

But only two companies bid, securing drilling rights for seven tracts of land — or less than 1 percent of that offered — for only $1.16 million, Reuters reports.

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The Trump administration pitched the lease sale as part of its “American Energy Dominance” agenda, with Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeTrump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Big-game hunters infuriated by Trump elephant trophy debacle Interior moves ahead with opening wildlife refuge next to contaminated nuclear site MORE calling it “large and unprecedented” in October.

But it yielded fewer bids, for fewer tracts of land, than several recent lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. In 2016, companies spent $18 million on 67 tracts of land totaling 457,000 acres, according to government figures.

The lease sale comes as Congress moves closer to opening up parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil drilling.

A GOP tax proposal is paid for, in part, by lease sales in the ANWR region. Republican supporters of that proposal, including the Alaska congressional delegation, hope drilling in the region will produce $1 billion in revenue for the federal government, though opponents of the plan say the economic analysis is too optimistic about oil industry demand for ANWR drilling.