* No active federal leases in the Cook Inlet
* LNG export terminal using Cook Inlet gas closing
By Tom Doggett and Yereth Rosen
WASHINGTON, March 1 The U.S. Interior
Department has canceled leasing offshore tracts in Alaska's
Cook Inlet that was tentatively scheduled for later this year.
So-called lease sale 219 was called off because of lack of
sufficient interest by energy companies to search for oil or
natural gas in the area, the department said in a notice that
will be published in Wednesday's edition of the Federal
Cook Inlet sale 219 was scheduled to occur under the
government's revised 5-year offshore drilling plan for the
The last oil and gas lease sale in federal waters of the
Cook Inlet was held in 2004, and no qualifying bids were
received. There are currently no active federal leases in the
The only federal leases that were the subject of recent
development activity were those in Pioneer Natural Resources'
(PXD.N) Cosmopolitan field, located near the city of Homer. The
site has oil reserves that were discovered in the 1960s, and
has been drilled in recent years from shore. But Pioneer in
January announced that it was abandoning Cosmopolitan.
Cook Inlet, the channel that runs from the Anchorage area
south to the Gulf of Alaska, is home to Alaska's oldest
producing oil and gas basin.
With oil reserves mostly depleted, development in Cook
Inlet in recent years has focused on natural gas. But that
industry is also under pressure.
ConocoPhillips (COP.N) and Marathon Oil (MRO.N) in February
announced that they will close their liquefied natural gas
plant in Kenai, which has been the single largest user of Cook
Inlet natural gas.
The plant, scheduled to close this spring, is the only LNG
export facility in the United States, and has been operating
since 1969, shipping product to utilities in Tokyo.
ConocoPhillips and Marathon said they were unable to win
renewal of their contract with Japanese customers.
(Reporting by Tom Doggett in Washington, D.C. and Yereth
Rosen in Anchorage, Alaska; Editing by David Gregorio)