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

WAFWA: Aerial survey finds lesser prairie chicken population grew

07/06/2015 A recent range-wide aerial survey found the lesser prairie chicken population rose 25% from 2014 to 2015, the Western Association of Fish & Wil...

Buru awarded onshore Canning licenses

07/06/2015 Buru Energy Ltd., Perth, and Mitsubish Corp. have been granted two production licenses for Ungani oil field in the onshore Canning basin of Western...

Cenovus sells royalty business for $3.3 billion

07/06/2015 Cenovus Energy Inc., Calgary, inked an agreement to sell its wholly owned subsidiary Heritage Royalty LP to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan for gros...

CERI: Energy, operational efficiencies possible in Canadian oil, gas

07/06/2015 Measures can be taken by operators in the expanding resource-intensive Canadian oil and gas sector to improve both energy efficiency and operationa...

AGL Energy to scale back upstream gas operations

07/06/2015

Gas retailer AGL Energy Ltd., Sydney, says it will exit the oil business and massively scaling back its upstream gas operations.

Macondo settlement seen ‘positive’ for BP

07/06/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc.’s recent agreement to settle federal and state claims related to the 2010 Macondo blowout and spill improves t...

Court to EPA: Costs matter

07/06/2015 Oil and gas groups did not respond immediately when the US Supreme Court ruled on June 29 that the US Environmental Protection Agency acted unreaso...

Emerging producers offered guidelines for governance

07/06/2015 Like most worthy endeavors, governing oil and gas activity at the national level is easier said than done-especially where oil and gas never before...

Innovation addresses US environmental regulations; more needed

07/06/2015 Technology spawned the recent boom in US oil and gas production which in turn led to new regulations that keep the environment and people safe.
White Papers

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

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

When 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


Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

When Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

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