The Department of the Interior (DOI) will hold a lease sale for oil and gas parcels in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) on 11 August, offering 190 tracts of land, totaling about 1.8 million acres. Currently, there are 310 authorized oil and gas leases totaling 3,026,633 acres in the NPR-A.


The NPR-A is west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Source: EIA. Click to enlarge.

The tracts offered cover land available for oil and gas leasing within the Northeast NPR-A, closest to existing infrastructure, such as the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, and areas of known development potential. Leases issued as a result of this sale will have primary terms of ten (10) years.

This sale reflects the Administration’s continuing efforts to encourage environmentally responsible development of domestic energy resources, including fossil fuels, to reduce our nation’s heavy dependence on imported oil. It also demonstrates our continuing commitment to protect and conserve wildlife and their habitat on sensitive public lands with exceptional ecological value.

—Interior Secretary Ken Salazar

Formerly known as the Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 4, the NPR-A is a 23-million acre area on Alaska’s North Slope that has a history of nearly 100 years of petroleum exploration. In 1923, President Harding set aside these 23 million acres as an emergency oil supply for the US Navy. In 1976, in accordance with the Naval Petroleum Reserve Production Act, the administration of the reserve was transferred to the Department of the Interior, more specifically the Bureau of Land Management, and was renamed to what is now known as the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A).

NPR-A August 2010 Lease Sale
  NE High Potential Tracts NE Low Potential Tracks
Track size ¼ township

(±5,760 acres)

½ township

(± 11,500 acres)

Minimum bid $25 or more per acre or fraction thereof $5 or more per acre or fraction thereof
Fixed royalty rate 16.67% 12.5%
Rental rate and minimum royalty $5 per acre or fraction thereof $3 per acre or fraction thereof

In developing this lease sale, the BLM chose not to offer lands around Teshekpuk Lake in consideration of important fish and wildlife habitats. The lake shore areas contain internationally significant molting habitat for black brant, Canada geese, and greater white-fronted geese.


Lease tracts 2010. Click to enlarge.

The lake’s shoreline has been respected through several Administrations, which have agreed to withhold the lake (219,000 acres) and areas to the north from leasing. The area north and east of the lake (430,000 acres) has been deferred from leasing until 2018. This sale also holds back about 170,000 acres south of the lake because of migratory bird and caribou habitat concerns.

The Teshekpuk Caribou Herd has almost doubled in population in recent years, from about 35,000 to almost 70,000 animals, and BLM has agreed that the herd’s biology justifies holding back a significant number of potential leases south of Teshekpuk Lake so that the agency can update its understanding of the herd’s needs and land use. The herd is particularly important to local village subsistence hunters who take about 5% of the herd in an average year.