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US petroleum reserve lease sale in Alaska draws just 7 bids

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Oil companies this week had the chance to bid on 900 tracts within Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve but offered bids on just seven.

The Bureau of Land Management lease sale made available 16,100 square miles (41,700 sq. kilometers) — roughly the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined — within the reserve.

But at bid opening Wednesday, the agency received bids on just 125 square miles (324 sq. kilometers).

All seven bids were submitted jointly by ConocoPhillips and Anadarko. The bids totaled $1.16 million, to be shared evenly between the federal government and the state of Alaska.

The reserve was created in 1923 as an emergency oil supply for the Navy.

A 2013 management plan splits the area roughly in half between conservation areas and land available for petroleum development.