Alaska to submit plans to run 3D seismic on ANWR’s coastal plain

Alaska will officially submit plans to conduct 3D seismic tests on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the federal government, state officials announced on July 9.

The state is acting under Section 1002(e) of the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), Gov. Sean Parnell (R) said during a press conference in Anchorage. When it passed the law, Congress deferred a decision regarding future management of the 1.5-million-acre coastal plain, or 1002 Area, because of its potentially enormous oil and gas resources and its importance as wildlife habitat.

“The 1002 Area of ANWR holds enormous promise for Alaska and for our nation,” Parnell said. “Federal law provides clear direction and mandates a number of actions that the Interior Secretary must take upon the submission of a 1002 Area exploration plan. We look forward to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s prompt review and approval of this exploration plan.”

He said the state submitted a detailed proposal to Jewell on May 18 and offered to help finance seismic studies there (OGJ Online, May 20, 2013). The secretary rejected the proposal in late June, so the state is submitting a formal exploration plan and special use permit application for the area, Parnell said.

“Under this plan, we’re seeking a special use permit to allow the state to collect modern 3D seismic data across the 1002 Area,” said Alaska Natural Resources Commission Dan Sullivan, who also participated in the press conference. The federal government allowed 2D seismic to be run there in the early 1980s and allows 3D in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, he noted.

‘Much better idea’

“This is a world-class document. There are probably one to two organizations besides the State of Alaska that could put something like this together,” Sullivan maintained. “We can get a much better idea of what’s in the 1002 Area without making significant impacts on the tundra. I think the key question for the Department of the Interior as it looks at this is why it wouldn’t want to know what resources lie beneath this area.”

The state’s congressional delegation welcomed the announcement. “The coastal plain holds valuable oil and natural gas resources, which is why Congress reserved it for oil production more than 30 years ago,” said US Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), the Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s ranking minority member.

“Any effort to change the way the area is managed must only be considered with the best available information,” she said, adding, “Gov. Parnell’s offer to help pay for a full resource assessment of the coastal plain using 3D seismic is generous, sensible, and legally allowed under the 1980 Lands Act.”

Alaska’s other US senator, Mark Begich (D), added, “The Obama administration is wrong in opposing oil and gas exploration and development in the Arctic Refuge, which I’ve been telling them for five years. Alaskans have proven we know how to responsibly develop oil and gas in some of harshest conditions on earth.”

‘Share this curiosity’

“Regardless of one’s stance on opening ANWR, Alaskans and Americans deserve to know what they own,” said Don Young (R), the state’s lone US House member. “A good, responsible land manager should share this curiosity, and I look forward to Secretary of Interior Jewell’s response to this reasonable request.”

Environmental organizations condemned the move. “What part of ‘no’ do they not understand?” said Cindy Shogan, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League in Washington. “Development in [ANWR’s] biologically sensitive Coastal Plain is a non-starter for the Obama administration, [which] declared just last week in a letter to Gov. Parnell that seismic activity in the Arctic Refuge is illegal without an act of Congress and a policy that the administration firmly opposes.”

Parnell said if Jewell approves the application, which he said is rooted in federal law, the state would begin its tests in 2014 and confine activities to winter periods over 3 years. “For so long, we’ve been told no,” he said. “Yet the federal government, as public land managers, owes it to the people to better understand what oil and gas resources actually lie under that land and could possibly be developed.”

Sullivan said, “Debates over ANWR can be a tired mantra, with some people favoring opening it for oil and gas development and others opposing it. We’re saying to the federal government let’s find out what’s there. If [it] won’t act, the state will.”

Contact Nick Snow at

Related Articles

EPA approves Magellan’s Corpus Christi splitter project

12/12/2014 The US Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final greenhouse gas prevention of significant deterioration construction permit to Magellan Pr...

Keyera to take majority interest in Alberta gas plant

12/12/2014 Keyera Corp., Calgary, will pay $65 million (Can.) to buy a 70.79% ownership interest in the Ricinus deep-cut gas plant in west-central Alberta.

PBF Energy, PBF Logistics make management changes

12/12/2014 Matthew Lucey, currently executive vice-president of PBF Energy Inc., will succeed Michael Gayda as the company’s president. Todd O’Malley, current...

TAEP: TPI still peaking, but ‘contraction unavoidable’ as oil prices fall

12/12/2014 The Texas Petro Index (TPI), a composite index based on a comprehensive group of upstream economic indicators released by the Texas Alliance of Ene...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil price extends slump

12/12/2014 Crude oil prices extended their slump on the New York market with a Dec. 11 settlement of less than $60/bbl for January, and prices continued downw...

US needs more data before ending crude export ban, House panel told

12/11/2014 Much more environmental impact information is needed before the US can reasonably remove crude oil export limits, a witness told a House Energy and...

BOEM raises offshore oil spill liability limit to $134 million

12/11/2014 The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management increased the liability limit for oil-spill related damages from offshore operations to $134 million from ...

Rosneft, Essar sign terms of oil supply agreement

12/11/2014 OAO Rosneft and Essar Energy PLC have signed key terms of an oil supply agreement in New Delhi. Rosneft said shipments to India may begin in 2015.

Barton introduces bill to remove US crude export limits


US Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) introduced legislation that would remove US crude oil export limits that have been in place for nearly 40 years.

White Papers

AVEVA NET Accesses and Manages the Digital Asset

Global demand for new process plants, power plants and infrastructure is increasing steadily with the ...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Approach for the Digital Asset

To meet the requirements for leaner project execution and more efficient operations while transferring...
Sponsored by

Diversification - the technology aspects

In tough times, businesses seek to diversify into adjacent markets or to apply their skills and resour...
Sponsored by

Engineering & Design for Lean Construction

Modern marketing rhetoric claims that, in order to cut out expensive costs and reduce risks during the...
Sponsored by

Object Lessons - Why control of engineering design at the object level is essential for efficient project execution

Whatever the task, there is usually only one way to do it right and many more to do it wrong. In the c...
Sponsored by

Plant Design for Lean Construction - at your fingertips

One area which can provide improvements to the adoption of Lean principles is the application of mobil...
Sponsored by

How to Keep Your Mud System Vibrator Hose from Getting Hammered to Death

To prevent the vibrating hoses on your oilfield mud circulation systems from failing, you must examine...
Sponsored by

Duty of Care

Good corporate social responsibility means implementing effective workplace health and safety measures...
Sponsored by

Available Webcasts

On Demand

Optimizing your asset management practices to mitigate the effects of a down market

Thu, Dec 11, 2014

The oil and gas market is in constant flux, and as the price of BOE (Barrel of Oil Equivalent) goes down it is increasingly important to optimize your asset management strategy to stay afloat.  Attend this webinar to learn how developing a solid asset management plan can help your company mitigate costs in any market.


Parylene Conformal Coatings for the Oil & Gas Industry

Thu, Nov 20, 2014

In this concise 30-minute webinar, participants have an opportunity to learn more about how Parylene coatings are applied, their features, and the value they add to devices and components.


Utilizing Predictive Analytics to Optimize Productivity in Oil & Gas Operations

Tue, Nov 18, 2014

Join IBM on Tuesday, November 18 @ 1pm CST to explore how Predictive Analytics can help your organization maximize productivity, operational performance & associated processes to drive enterprise wide productivity and profitability.



Fri, Nov 14, 2014

US LNG Exports, the third in a trilogy of webcasts focusing on the broad topic of US Hydrocarbon Exports.

A discussion of the problems and potential for the export of US-produced liquefied natural gas.

These and other topics will be discussed, with the latest thoughts on U.S. LNG export policy.


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