Alaska is delaying what is expected to be one of the largest oil and natural gas lease sales in the U.S. this year because more acreage could be added to the auction. The state also wants to give companies more to time to prepare bids. Alaska previously planned to auction 14.7 million acres.
The state may now include 2 million acres in the Beaufort Sea as well as acreage near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. The sale was originally slated for late October, but has now been pushed back to early December though no specific date has been released.
Alaskan production has been declining for several years and the state is looking to reverse that trend by opening new areas for exploration. Gov. Sean Parnell's administration is seeking to open or improve access to more state lands for development while urging the federal government to follow suit, the Associated Press reported.
An attempt by Parnell to reduce taxes on oil production in an effort to make the state more attractive to oil producers failed in the last legislative session, the AP noted.