Houston — The Interior Department could hold its first lease sale for drilling in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge a soon as 2019, US Senator Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican, said Monday.
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During an appearance at CERAWeek by IHS Markit, Sullivan said top officials with the Interior Department were in Alaska this week to determine different aspects of the planned ANWR lease sale, including the timing of the sale.
Sullivan said that Interior officials have offered no timeline for the sale, which was approved as part of the sweeping tax reform bill President Donald Trump signed into law in December.
The bill requires Interior to hold at least two areawide lease sales within ANWR offering a minimum of 400,000 acres total within 10 years.
The ANWR provision was opposed by Democrats and environmentalists, who pledged to fight it in courts and through future legislation, and it remains unclear how much interest the industry has in drilling in ANWR.
Sullivan indicated there was commercial interest in drilling in ANWR, due to the area's resource potential and its proximity to existing oil and natural gas infrastructure.
Alaska crude oil production has fallen from a peak of 2.09 million b/d in March 1988 to 512,000 b/d in December 2017, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
EIA forecasts Alaska oil production to average about 500,000 b/d through 2019.
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