Hawaii & Alaska
Loren Holmes / ADN

AK - These Risk-Taking Companies Gambled on Arctic Refuge Oil Leases in the Federal Government's First Sale There

Two small companies, one from Australia and another from Alaska, submitted the only two private bids in the federal government’s first-ever lease sale for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday, at an event largely considered a flop given it raised just $14 million as major oil companies stayed away.

Knik Arm Services, owned by Alaskan Mark Graber, offered the day’s highest bid at $1.6 million to win a 50,000-acre tract along the Arctic Ocean.

“I’m excited to be playing a role,” Graber said by phone from Texas on Wednesday. “It’s noble to try and be part of something big like this for Alaska that would benefit Alaskans. There will always be controversy when you are trying to do something big.”

Regenerate Alaska, a subsidiary of 88 Energy in West Perth, Australia, bid about $800,000 to win the smallest tract.

A state-owned development corporation, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, placed the only bids on nine other tracts, a safeguard in case no other bidders came forward during a challenging time for Arctic oil and gas investment.

The agency, which provides financing for Alaska projects including the small, proposed Mustang oil field on the North Slope, hopes to hold the 10-year leases to one day work with oil and gas explorers that might come forward.

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