KENAI - Several oil and natural gas companies have bid on more than a dozen tracts in the Cook Inlet region owned by the Alaska Mental Health Land Trust.
The land trust, whose beneficiaries include Alaskans with mental illness and developmental disabilities, put 39 tracts up for lease, receiving 21 bids on 17 of those tracts in the Nov. 9 offering.
The land trust office said key areas of industry interest were associated with natural gas exploration activities on the west side of Cook Inlet and on the Kenai Peninsula.
Unocal Corp. and Marathon Oil Co. bid on tracts on the peninsula, while Aurora Gas LLC, Forest Oil Corp. and newcomer Storm Cat Energy Corp. bid on tracts on the north and west side of the inlet, the land office said.
Individuals Monte Allen and Clyde T. Boyer bid on tracts near Kenai and Nikiski.
"I am very pleased with the outcome," said Mike Franger, senior trust resource manager. "With this sale, the trust nearly doubled the acreage it has leased in the Cook Inlet area since the inception of our leasing program. We look forward to working with the lessees in their efforts to explore and, hopefully, develop oil and gas production from trust land."
According to the land trust office, the sale included about 200,000 acres in the inlet basin and was made up of tracts that previously had been offered for lease.
The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority manages revenues realized from the sale. About $700,000 in bonus bids was received from the sale.