Oil companies show little interest in Arctic oil rights

The Trump administration has held the first sale for rights to drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but the auction saw no interest from oil majors. 

The Alaskan wildlife refuge is estimated to hold over 11 billion barrels of oil. After decades of controversy, the sale was authorised in 2017.

An Alaskan state-run agency was the primary bidder at the auction and indeed was the only bidder on nine of the parcels offered for least.

In total the sale raised less than £11m, far less than the government had predicted.

Overall, just 550,000 acres of the 1.6 million-acre coastal plain received bids.

Major oil companies, including Exxon, Shell and BP were not present at the auction, this is in part due to mounting pressure to mitigate climate change but is also largely due to a slump in oil prices, the oil majors have said that they are focusing their spending on renewable energy.

Adom Kolton, executive director of Alaska Wilderness, commented on this news: ‘This lease sale was an epic failure for the Trump administration and the Alaska congressional delegation.

‘After years of promising a revenue and jobs bonanza they ended up throwing a party for themselves, with the state being one of the only bidders.

‘The American people will not turn a blind eye to the liquidation of this national treasure. President-elect Biden, who ran on an ambitious climate agenda and on a promise to protect the Arctic Refuge, must take strong action on day one to put the brakes on this calamity.

‘Ultimately, we believe the courts will find the Trump administration’s Arctic Refuge drilling scheme to be illegal, violating bedrock environmental laws and ignoring its responsibility to protect the food security of Indigenous peoples and the refuge’s irreplaceable wildlife and wilderness values.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay


Pippa Neill


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