North Slope Exploration LLC, a newcomer in the U.S. oil industry, has become the leading bidder in what officials say was the most successful Alaska lease sale in 13 years.
Reuters reports the total value of the bids placed under the lease sale topped $11 million, according to the Alaska associate state director for the Bureau of Land Management, Ted Murphy.
This compares with just $1.5 million in bids placed under last year’s lease sales in Alaska. The bids cover a quarter of the acreage offered, all in the National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska, up from a meager 6 percent last year.
“It is indeed exciting to receive bids on more than 25% of the tracts that we offered, as well as to see a new player, North Slope Exploration, coming into the National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska,” Murphy said as quoted by Reuters.
The average price per acre in the lease sale was just $11, compared with $14 per acre in the last lease sale that saw this size of bids, back in 2006.
Early this year, S&P Global Platts reported that new digital technology had helped uncover as much as 1.5 billion barrels of crude in untapped resources in the North Slope. These are deposits that were known to be there, but the resources they held could not be mapped or measured, so the deposits were considered unproductive before digital tech—in the form of advanced 3D seismic surveys and new data processing techniques—came along.
The Alaska National Petroleum Reserve spans 23 million acres and, thanks to the advancements in technology, it is garnering growing attention from the oil industry. The most active among the players in the area is ConocoPhillips, which the operator of the Willow oil project. Willow could boost Alaska’s oil production by 130,000 bpd.