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Few Drillers Interested In ANWR

In November, the Trump administration fast-tracked plans to sell drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil companies. Yesterday’s sale was supposed to end a battle that has raged for more than 40 years—a battle over drilling, pumping and transporting crude oil in the delicate coastal plain that supports migrating caribou, polar bears and other wildlife.

Fortunately, all but two oil companies stayed on the sidelines during the historic auction of drilling rights in ANWR. The oil industry essentially dealt Trump another defeat, while handing the world an important victory.

Many major banks say they won’t fund oil projects in the Arctic.

Opponents have filed several lawsuits to block drilling. They’ve raised concerns about its impacts on Indigenous people, the global climate and wildlife.

But amid a global recession, low oil prices and an aggressive pressure campaign against leasing by drilling opponents, oil analysts predicted low interest in the sale. They were right. The ANWR oil lease lured just three bidders — the biggest of of which was the state of Alaska.

“They held the lease in ANWR, which will be recorded in the history books,” said Larry Persily, an Alaska resident. “But no one showed up. It was a dry hole. No one will see any oil coming out of ANWR.”

Even Kara Moriarty, head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, acknowledged that the sale results weren’t as strong as expected. But she said the industry still supports future access to the coastal plain.

“Today’s sale reflects the brutal economic realities the oil and gas industry faces after the unprecedented events of 2020, coupled with ongoing regulatory uncertainty,” she said.

The sale raised a total of $14.4 million in bids, according to the Bureau of Land Management. Nearly all of that revenue came from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority. The state-owned economic development corporation was the only bidder on nine of the parcels offered for lease in the northernmost swath of the refuge, known as the coastal plain.

Read The Full Story About the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Oil

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