US government picks preferred Alaska oil development plan

August 26, 2019 GMT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The federal government has chosen a preferred development plan for a project that could significantly boost Alaska’s oil production, a report said.

The ConocoPhillips Willow project could produce up to 130,000 barrels of oil daily, The Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday.

The federal Bureau of Land Management released a draft environmental report on the project in the northeastern National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. The bureau will release a final report before a development plan is selected.

The ConocoPhillips plan calls for five drill sites linked by seven bridges, an airstrip, 38 miles (61 kilometers) of roads and a processing facility to prepare crude oil for shipment. The plan also includes pipelines and a state application for a temporary island for barges.

The project could last 30 years and produce about 590 million barrels of oil, while an average of 375 workers would be employed annually for a nine-year construction period beginning in 2020, according to the draft report.

Oil production would begin in 2024 under the plan. The state would collect $1.7 billion in taxes, plus $2.5 billion in royalties related to the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska impact mitigation fund. The federal government would collect $4.4 billion in taxes and royalties, while the borough would receive $1.9 billion in property taxes.

Alaska is producing an average 500,000 barrels of oil per day this year, officials said.

Conservation groups condemned the project. Development would affect migrating caribou, fish, nesting yellow-billed loons, and Alaska Native subsistence hunters, Audubon Alaska said.

“Wildfires this summer in the Arctic and around the world underline the urgent need to ramp down fossil fuel development, not permit more,” said Audubon Alaska Executive Director Natalie Dawson.


Information from: Anchorage Daily News,