Bidders spend almost $1 million in oil, gas lease sale

Posted: Thursday, May 08, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) Speculators bid nearly $1 million this week for oil and gas leases in Cook Inlet and the North Slope Foothills.

The $923,675 in bids Wednesday covered 28 tracts covering 109,440 acres.

All but one of the tracts were in and around Cook Inlet. Prodigy Alaska was the high bidder, picking up seven tracts for $415,385. Forest Oil, Marathon Oil, Pelican Hill Oil & Gas and Unocal also bought leases, as did four groups of independent investors.

Those are the major players in Cook Inlet,'' said James Hansen, lease sales manager at the state Oil and Gas Division, which conducted the sale.

The state holds oil and gas sales each year, putting all the acreage that's not under lease up for bids.

Bidding was scattered for tracts all through the Inlet, both offshore and onshore. Most of the larger tracts were adjacent to areas already claimed.

Prodigy Alaska's leases cover 20,000 acres in the northern part of the Inlet adding to the 10,200 acres the company picked up two years ago, according to Mark Landt, vice president of land and new-business development for the Dallas-based company.

The leases Prodigy now holds, in an area it calls the Northern Lights Anticline, had been held by Arco and Phillips in the early 1990s, and 16 wells have been drilled in the region over the past 40 years, Landt said.

Forest Oil picked up three tracts for a total of $56,396.

One of them is onshore near its offshore Redoubt Shoal field, said Gary Carlson, Forest Oil's senior vice president in charge of Alaska operations.

Redoubt Shoal, near the Kustatan River on the Inlet's west shore, is believed to contain more than 100 million barrels of oil. That would make it one of the most significant discoveries in years.

Only one lease sold Wednesday was in the North Slope Foothills, where EnCana Oil & Gas was the sole bidder, picking up 5,760 acres for $36,576, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

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