[Ip-health] Transparency of oil and gas leases on public lands

Luis Gil Abinader luis.gil.abinader at keionline.org
Tue Apr 30 06:00:45 PDT 2019


As the World Health Assembly (WHA) approaches in late May, WHO members will
discuss a proposed resolution on transparency (
https://www.keionline.org/29902). The U.S. Congress is also considering a
number bills that would require greater transparency, and groups like KEI
have asked the NIH, BARDA and other federal agencies to be more transparent
about licensing policies.

In evaluating how much transparency is appropriate in licensing of patented
inventions, policy makers should consider the extensive transparency
regarding the leasing of public lands to the the oil and gas industry.

The National Petroleum Reserve (NPR) lease sales in the State of Alaska
provide a useful illustration of how an industry that faces significant
risks and large upfront capital costs for exploration, also functions with
far more transparency.

Using the Alaska Case Retrieval Enterprise System (ACRES) search tool,
available at the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management
website, it is possible to obtain the royalty rate agreed for NPR leases,
the size of the land leased, and payments made by the lessee company – down
to the exact dollar amount.

The ACRES search tool is available here:

Queries are based on lease serial numbers. A list of lease serial numbers,
sorted by companies and updated up to March 2019, is available here:

According to the information available, ConocoPhillips Alaska has a total
of 167 leases covering 1,081,767 acres. This is the company with the
largest operation in the State of Alaska, both in terms of number of leases
as well as acreage. It is followed by NORDAQ Energy Inc, which has 19
leases covering 217,424 acres.

The ACRES search tool has detailed information for each one of these
contracts, tabulated in a section the system calls “abstract.” For
instance, one of the most recent leases signed by ConocoPhillips Alaska is
identified with the serial code AA095402. According to the abstract
section, this lease was issued on February 2019, covers a total of 11,386
acres, and has a royalty rate of 12 ½%. As of February 25, 2019, the
“balance bonus bid” payment was $100,307.00. These reports are updated
every week.

Contrast this level of detail with the fact that the NIH refuses to
disclose the royalty rate or the royalties paid on licenses to patented
inventions, that are negotiated transactions, often involving investors and
scientists who are former NIH employees, or colleague and friends of NIH

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