Hilcorp dominates Cook Inlet lease sale

Bidding was modest in the state’s May 8 Cook Inlet areawide lease sale, held every spring.

Twenty-eight lease tracts were sold with high bids of $419,840 offered by six bidder groups, state Oil and Gas Division Director Bill Barron said.

Hilcorp Energy dominated the bidding, mostly for onshore tracts on the Kenai Peninsula near areas where Hilcorp is operating existing gas wells.

Cook Inlet Energy, which operates oil wells on the inlet’s west side, bid successfully, as did NordAq Energy, an Alaska-based company, and Aurora Gas, which operates gas wells on the inlet’s west side.

Most bids were in the $25 to $28 per acre range for leases offered. However, a high bid on one lease, at $82 per acre, came from Houston-based independent Woodstone Resources, Barron said at the lease sale.

The Woodstone bid was on a tract east of Anchor Point on the Kenai Peninsula near where Hilcorp is exploring.

Meanwhile, an offering of state leases on the Alaska Peninsula, near Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska, made at the same time as the Cook Inlet sale, brought no bids, Barron said.

There were 5.2 million acres of unleased state onshore lands in the Alaska Peninsula region that were offered.

State geothermal leases also were offered around Augustine volcanoin lower Cook Inlet, and brought one bid for a lease, from an individual, Nicholas van Wyck. Division officials did not have van Wyck’s address on hand.

Barron said Cook Inlet has seen a renaissance of activity in the last few years.

“Hilcorp Energy alone has announced that it will spend $300 million to $350 million in 2013 to increase production in existing wells, and to explore for new resources on the Kenai Peninsula,” Barron said.

The Houston-based independent entered Alaska in 2012, acquiring Chevron assets that year and closing its deal for Marathon Oil properties in early 2013 after clearing federal regulatory hurdles.

Hilcorp acquired 19 onshore tracts, the bulk of its bids being the sole bid on a lease. Cook Inlet Energy, a subsidiary of Tennessee-based Miller Energy, acquired five onshore tracts, four on the west side of Cook Inlet near where the company currently has oil production at its West MacArthur River field, and one on the inlet’s east side.

Alaska-based independent NordAq Energy won one lease on the west side of the inlet near where the company is currently exploring other leases. Aurora Energy, a Houston independent that now has gas production on the west side of the inlet, won a lease on the inlet’s east side near the gas-producing Ninilchik field owned by Hilcorp.

The bulk of leases sold were inland on the Kenai Peninsula east and northeast of the Anchor Point and Homer communities in an area where new gas production has been developed by Armstrong Oil and Gas of Denver, and more recently by Hilcorp, and where Buccaneer Energy, an Australian independent, is exploring.

Tim Bradner is a reporter for the Alaska Journal of Commerce.