Cook Inlet, Alaska. Pete Niesen / Shutterstock

Alaska Offshore Oil and Gas Lease Sale Attracts Only One Bid

Mike Schuler
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January 4, 2023

An offshore oil and gas lease sale covering waters off Alaska’s south-central coast generated just one bid.

The lease sale, known as the Cook Inlet Oil and Gas Lease Sale 258, took place December 30 and offered approximately 958,202 acres for lease across 193 blocks in the northern part of the Cook Inlet Planning Area, stretching roughly from Kalgin Island in the north to Augustine Island in the south.

The lease sale was held by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in accordance with the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), which required the lease sale to be held by the end of 2022.

BOEM said the Cook Inlet lease sale resulted in only one bid for one tract. The bid was submitted by Hilcorp Alaska LLC in the amount of $63,983.

The sale terms included stipulations to protect biologically sensitive resources, mitigate potential adverse effects on protected species, and avoid potential conflicts associated with other inlet users.

The Cook Inlet lease sale was only the second oil and gas sale held during the Biden Administration. President Biden had previously put a pause on oil and gas leasing as part of his administration’s effort to combat climate change. However, a judge’s ruling forced the lease sales to continue, forcing a November 2021 oil and gas sale in the Gulf of Mexico. Later, another judge nullified the results of that sale, ruling that the Biden Administration failed to properly account for the auction’s climate change impact.

Since then, the results have been reinstated with the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act into law in August, thanks to a provision buried in the law requiring the reinstatement of November 2021 lease sale and three others; including the one in Cook Inlet and two more in the Gulf of Mexico to be held by the end of March 2023 and September 2023, respectively.

Under the Biden Administration, BOEM has been focussing its efforts on offshore wind energy leasing, with three sales taking place this year which attracted a combined $5.4 billion, including the record-setting $4.37 billion New York Bight wind sale, the $315 million Carolina Long Bay wind sale, and the $757 million California wind sale, which was the first to be held on the U.S. West Coast.

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