Salazar, Alaska producers view final NPR-A plan differently

US Sec. of the Interior Ken Salazar signed a final plan for managing the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska that he and several environmental organizations called balanced, and the Alaska Oil & Gas Association called needlessly restrictive.

“The balanced approach under this plan is the result of extensive local input and will help guide the responsible production and transport of the substantial oil and gas resources in and around [NPR-A],” Salazar said Feb. 21 as he released the plan’s final details.

“This comprehensive plan will allow us to continue to expand our leasing in the NPR-A, as has happened over the last 3 years, while protecting the outstanding and unique resources that are critically important to the culture and subsistence lifestyle of Alaska natives and our nation’s conservation heritage,” he maintained.

“We respectively disagree with the secretary,” AOGA Executive Director Kara Moriarty told OGJ by telephone from Anchorage after Salazar announced his decision. “We do not feel it is a balanced approach. We see it as one which locks up areas in a petroleum reserve.”

Salazar said the final action allows for the development of 72% of the estimated economically recoverable oil in the nearly 23 million-acre reserve, while protecting the vital subsistence resources of Alaska Natives and the habitat of world-class wildlife populations.

Addresses two issues

Salazar said the final plan, outlined in a record of decision (ROD), addresses two key issues he identified when he released the final environmental impact statement for what Interior called an integrated activity plan for NPR-A.

First, said Salazar, it confirmed explicitly that pipelines carrying oil and gas from the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas could be built across NPR-A. Second, following additional consultations with North Slope communities, the ROD requires that the US Bureau of Land Management establish an “NPR-A Working Group” that will include representatives of North Slope tribal entities, native corporations, and local governments.

BLM said the working group will provide input on the full range of management issues and possible future development in the NPR-A, including pipelines and related oil and gas system development.

It also will be a forum to gather additional scientific information and traditional knowledge about wildlife populations and needs, and it can inform potential adjustments to the boundaries of special areas including, for example, potential future adjustments to the southernmost boundary of the Teshekpuk Lake special area, BLM said.

It said it has estimated that acreage made available for development under this plan contains nearly three fourths of NPR-A’s estimated economically recoverable oil and more than half the estimated economically recoverable gas. The plan will allow for access to oil and gas resources on 11.8 million acres, which are estimated to hold 549 million bbl of economically recoverable oil and 8.7 tcf of economically recoverable gas, BLM indicated.

‘Areas locked up’

Moriarty said AOGA and its member companies believe this plan locks up resources specifically set aside as a petroleum reserve. “A lot of Alaskans—from the governor and our congressional delegation to natives who live in the area—supported a different approach,” she told OGJ. “We hoped there would be access to highly prospective areas in the reserve. The area around Teshekpuk Lake already was off-limits, but now other promising areas have been locked up.”

She also questioned the necessity of setting up the working group when producers have operated safely and worked well with native communities on the ANS for more than 35 years. “It’s also not clear how the approved plan would accommodate a pipeline corridor,” she said. “But the final plan’s most disturbing aspect is that many promising areas in the reserve are off-limits now. We see it as a lose-lose proposition for those of us who live here and call Alaska home.”

Salazar’s final NPR-A decision also drew fire from Republican Congressional energy leaders. US Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alas.), the Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s ranking minority member, said she continues to believe that a land management plan focused on conservation is inappropriate for a petroleum reserve.

“Even the administration concedes the need to build a pipeline to ensure that the vast oil and gas resources in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas can reach the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System,” she said, adding, “But the language included in this plan fails to provide the certainty necessary to make sure such a pipeline can actually be built without being held up by endless environmental litigation.”

‘Backwards worldview’

US House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (Wash.) said Salazar’s decision put more oil and gas resources on federally controlled land off-limits as US gasoline prices climbed for a 34th consecutive day.

“Only in [US President Barack] Obama’s backwards worldview of antienergy policies does it make sense to prohibit energy production in a place specifically set aside for energy production at a time when gasoline prices are skyrocketing and federal oil and natural gas production is declining,” he said.

Environmental organizations, meanwhile, applauded Salazar’s action. “This strategy protects incredibly valuable wildlife habitat for caribou, bears, and migratory waterfowl in the Western Arctic, yet still allows industry access to the majority of economically recoverable oil in the reserve,” said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society. “It’s a plan that meets the needs of all Americans, and can serve as a model for the rest of the country.”

Cindy Shogan, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League, meanwhile, said, “[DOI] has crafted a plan that protects and recognizes the vital role of subsistence, scenic and recreational values, and unique wildlife values. [NPR-A] is home to our most iconic wildlife, like caribou, muskoxen, grizzly bears and beluga whales. Thank you for protecting this special place for future generations.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

EPA proposes voluntary methane reduction program for gas industry

07/24/2015 The US Environmental Protection Agency proposed a voluntary methane reduction program for the natural gas industry that would allow companies to ma...

Petrobras workers stage 24-hr strike

07/24/2015 Workers at beleaguered Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) staged a 24-hr strike across Brazil to protest plans by the state-owned company to liquid...

ONGC Videsh unit drills horizontally in Russia’s Snezhnoye field

07/24/2015 Imperial Energy Corp. PLC, a subsidiary of ONGC Videsh Ltd., has drilled two horizontal wells in the Naunak formation of Snezhnoye field in the Tom...

MARKET WATCH: Oil futures hover below $49/bbl

07/24/2015 Light, sweet crude oil futures prices settled under $49/bbl July 23 on the New York market, which means US prices have slid more than 20% since the...

EQT reports high IP from Utica dry gas well

07/24/2015 EQT Corp., Pittsburgh, said a deep, dry gas Utica well averaged 72.9 MMcfd with an average flowing casing pressure of 8,641 psi during a 24-hr deli...

Separate Murkowski bill addresses crude exports, OCS revenue sharing

07/24/2015 US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.) introduced legislation that would end the ban on US crude oil expor...

OGUK updates guidelines for well abandonments

07/23/2015

Oil & Gas UK has released updated guidelines for abandonment of wells, including cost estimates.

Statoil’s Julius well discovers gas, condensate in King Lear area

07/23/2015 Statoil ASA said its Julius exploratory well, drilled in the King Lear area of the Norwegian North Sea, has discovered gas and condensate (OGJ Onli...

MARKET WATCH: Oil futures plunge below $50/bbl

07/23/2015

Light, sweet crude oil futures prices plunged lower to settle below $50/bbl on the New York market on July 22.

White Papers

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

When Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Taking the Headache out of Fuel License and Exemption Certificates: How to Ensure Compliance

Tue, Aug 25, 2015

This webinar, brought to you by Avalara, will detail the challenges of tax document management, as well as recommend solutions for fuel suppliers. You will learn:

-    Why it’s critical to track business partner licenses and exemption documents
-    The four key business challenges of ensuring tax compliance through document management
-    Best practice business processes to minimize exposure to tax errors

register:WEBCAST


Driving Growth and Efficiency with Deep Insights into Operational Data

Wed, Aug 19, 2015

Capitalizing on today’s momentum in Oil & Gas requires operational excellence based on a clear view of what your business data is telling you. Which is why nearly half* of oil and gas companies have deployed SAP HANA or have it on their roadmap.

Join SAP and Red Hat to learn more about using data to drive process improvements and identify new opportunities with the SAP HANA platform running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This webinar will also show how your choice of infrastructure impacts the performance of core business applications and your ability to achieve data-driven insights quickly and reliably.

*48% use SAP, http://go.sap.com/solution/industry/oil-gas.html

register:WEBCAST


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected