23 companies, $2 billion in bids for Prudhoe oil

Twenty-three oil companies have bid more than $2 billion for the rights to drill for an estimated 2.36 billion barrels of oil under Prudhoe Bay off Alaska's North Slope.

The Interior Department, which estimated the quantity of oil under the Beaufort Sea, offered leases covering 1.8 million acres for bidding. British Petroleum, its Sohio affiliate, Mobil, and Tenneco were among participants in the bidding. ELF Acquitaine of France; Finadel, the Belgian parent of American Petrofina; and Koch were new to bidding for Alaskan oil. Assistant Interior Secretary J.Robinson West said he expected revenues from the new field, which could reach $80 billion, to provide up to $13 billion in royalties for the Treasury and another $5 billion in taxes.

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