Oil lease sale on Alaska’s North Slope draws big money

Oil companies spent big money Wednesday for rights to explore the Colville River Delta and other state territory, making this year’s North Slope auction the richest Alaska state lease sale in 21 years.

Led by the most aggressive bidders — privately held Caelus Energy and 70 & 148 LLC — companies and investors submitted $54.5 million in high bids for tracts comprising 524,387 acres of state and Native-owned onshore territory on the central North Slope, according to preliminary sale results. It was the most received in a single Alaska Division of Oil and Gas lease sale since 1993, when companies ponied up more than $65.2 million for exploration acreage in the Cook Inlet basin.

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