Friday news dump: Feds offer single Cook Inlet oil and gas lease, and Hilcorp is only bidder

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Hilcorp Alaska was the successful bidder on a Cook Inlet tract for oil and gas offered by the federal government. The amount just shy of $64,000, it was announced Friday.

Hilcorp was also the only bidder on the lease sale. The tract stretches from Kalgin Island to the north as far as Augustine Island to the south.

Texas-based Hilcorp Alaska has 14 other inlet leases from a 2017 sale, the last one held by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. During that offering, Hilcorp was also the only bidder.

Friday’s lease sale was executed on the last business day of the year in what is called in the news business a “take out the trash” day, or a day when the government hopes no one will notice.

The sale, opposed by many within the Biden Administration and offered under duress, was mandated by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the first offshore oil lease auction in five years for the inlet. Hilcorp has not yet begun production in its current leases.

Although President Joe Biden promised he would end offshore drilling, he made a compromise in order to ensure the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, agreeing to three new lease sales, even after the Department of the Interior had withdrawn a proposed sale in the inlet in May, citing no interest from industry. The Inflation Reduction Act required BOEM to conduct the inlet lease sale by Dec. 31. The other leases mandated are in the Gulf of Mexico.

Biden took criticism from the Left, upon the passage of the act, and took additional criticism today from environmental nonprofit advocacy groups, who say Alaska is the sacrificial lamb to get the Inflation Reduction Act passed.

“This damaging sale never should have happened in the first place, and we’ll continue challenging it in court and fighting to preserve beautiful Cook Inlet,” said Kristen Monsell, oceans legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We urge Biden not to issue any leases without meaningful consideration of drilling’s threats to local communities and wildlife like the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales, as he’s required to do by federal law.” 

“Today’s lease sale for dirty and dangerous offshore drilling represents the dark side of our nation’s climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act. Continued leasing for oil and gas undermines efforts to address the climate crisis,” said Diane Hoskins, of the environmental group Oceana. Hoskins is also a former field director for the Democratic Party of Georgia and officer at Pew Charitable Trust. “Where oil companies drill, they spill, and that’s why it’s time for President Biden to fulfill his campaign commitment to end new leasing for offshore drilling. The president can make good on his promise by finalizing a five-year plan for offshore drilling with no new leases.” The bid now goes through a 90-day evaluation process to “ensure the public receives fair market value before a lease is awarded, and will be reviewed by the Department of Justice to check for antitrust conflicts.

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

If a lease is awarded, it will be posted to BOEM’s website following the 90-day review. Materials and statistics for Lease Sale 258 are available at www.boem.gov/ak258

14 COMMENTS

  1. Ahh, the vertically integrated Hilcorp monopoly…. So terrible for Southcentral customers- paying way more to stay warm then is necessary.

    Then there are the liberal fruitcakes that want Alaskans to not be able to keep their homes warm in the Winter.

    I listened to some 20 something from CBC spouting off on a radio program called “Here and Now” The CBC nutcase said penguins in Antarctica were not going to survive unless the USA stopped using oil. The twit reporter didn’t bother to ask about CO2 emissions being a global concern. These fruitcakes are dangerously ignorant. FTA

  2. Hopefully Hilcorp is able to get permits to drill and find gas on their leases, it’s been reported that after this year they won’t have enough gas to provide for all of South Central AK.

  3. perhaps you should actually read the report you linked to. the sale offered 193 blocks totaling 958,202 acres.
    Hilcorp’s tract does not stretch from Kalgin to Augustine. The entire lease sale encompassed that area. Biden administration was correct in stating not much interest.

  4. Got to hand it to Hilcorp – salvaging the depleted infrastructure from the big oil companies and operating with a less gigantic corporate business model. in essence they are the remnants of a once thriving and competitive industry in Cook Inlet. We used to ship tankers of LNG to Korea (or was it Japan?). We manufactured agricultural fertilizer. Hell, we sold Coal to Korea even! What the hell happened?
    I would venture to say that our NG resources in Cook Inlet and coal have dropped in value due to the massive amount of NG developed throughout the world. At one time we were on the leading edge of LNG.

  5. Sorry, can’t help myself. HYDROGEN
    What a beautiful concept a fuel that emits only 02 and water. Why hasn’t someone thought of this before?
    Trees are cool – they eat CO2 and H2O, and produce O2 and a small fraction of hydrocarbons. Ahh but they use the energy of the Sun through photosynthesis. Where do we find the free energy to produce Hydrogen?
    Well, either solar, wind, hydro, fission, fusion, geothermal, fossil fuels? Assuming Fusion is not available, I vote for geothermal. The Aleutian Chain has a multitude of island volcanoes to generate the electric demand for electrolytic hydrogen generation. The Aleutians are also strategically placed for a massive fleet of supertankers to deliver Hydrogen throughout the Pacific Rim.

    • Why do H2 when you can do methane much easier and cheaper? It has the extra added benefit of producing a blue flame when burning. H2, OTOH has no flame. NASA used IR cameras at the Cape to check for H2 leaks during its use in rockets. Cheers –

    • Have you looked into tiny nuclear? Unfortunately, still working on the tech, but they don’t melt down and we could network them. I’ve always dissed nuclear because of our quakes, but if they can’t melt down and they’re small enough to be networked, it could be a good thing. Some of my family uses geothermal, but it’s very expensive. I have yet to see how productive it is; need to go visit!

  6. “Inflation reduction act”
    “Affordable care act”
    At least they’re consistent.
    Controlling the narrative to mean exactly the opposite of the intended result.

  7. Kristen quit using petroleum products completely or shut up. Big talker little leader. You want to threaten Alaska with lawyers that’s all you got. Show us the way with no oil in your life prove what you stand for.

  8. Cook Inlet gas and oil production has not been documented to harm Beluga whales, Ms Hoskins being from Georgia apparently does not understand that Alaskans need to heat their homes and that lack of gas supplies worldwide has resulted in increased coal consumption

  9. Most past presidents milk universities and other institutions on the lecture circuit. Imagine lining up a lecture two years hence w/ this nimrod. No telling what might come out his pie hole at all and he realizes that so he has no choice but to skim every transaction while he can. WWJ(oe)D?

  10. There’s question in my mind. Whatever has happened to Ms. Pelto? We haven’t heard a peep from her since Jiden’s state dinner. I hope she didn’t “go” and I hope she is ok.

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