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API comment on the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program

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World Pipelines,

API and the Alaska Oil and Gas Association (AOGA) yesterday submitted comments to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on the importance of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program’s likely impact on the Alaskan economy and issued the following statement:

“Given the 1002 Area’s vast energy potential, opening the Coastal Plain’s 1002 Area to oil and natural gas leasing and having the opportunity for exploration to assess its resource value alongside other potentially energy-rich areas is an important first step,” said API Vice President of Upstream and Industry Operations Erik Milito. “The oil and natural gas industry has a four-decades long track record of safe and responsible development at Prudhoe Bay and other North Slope fields. Industry has proven its ability to recover that energy safely and responsibly and has continued advancements in technology over the past two decades.

“Nearly 104 000 Alaska jobs are attributable to oil and natural gas investment and activity, which represents 32% of all Alaska jobs and 35% of all Alaska wages. The oil and natural gas industry has contributed over US$150 billion to the state of Alaska through royalties and taxes, and provides the largest cash contribution to the Alaska Permanent Fund. These benefits have been produced through an established record of safe and environmentally responsible development that is respectful of all of Alaska’s natural resources, and the communities that depend upon them.”

The US Geological Survey’s 1998 Petroleum Assessment of the 1002 area estimated at least 11.6 billion bbls of oil in-place, which more than doubled the 4.8 billion bbls estimated in the 1987 report on 1002 area resources. The 1998 assessment further estimated an average of 7.7 billion bbls of technically recoverable oil in 10 potential plays. The development of the North Slope has an impressive record of environmental stewardship and innovation. For example, natural gas and oil operators and US Fish and Wildlife Service jointly developed procedures, training and best practices for managing human-polar bear interactions that set the global gold standard for human-bear interactions and have been repeatedly recognised as a success.

In their comments, API and AOGA listed several concerns regarding BLM’s proposed stipulations and required operating procedures. The two associations noted that only one of the DEIS’s four development alternatives offered sufficient access to areas of the Coastal Plain to allow reasonable development of its oil and natural gas resources in the same careful manner in which development of the National Petroleum Reserve has taken place. Industry’s comments also include recommendations for corrections to assure the DEIS is not unreasonably restrictive, inappropriate, or not supported by the best available science.

“The Coastal Plain, as well as other energy reserves onshore and offshore, should be seen in a strategic context that can be accessed responsibly and safely, offering national energy and security benefits. In other words, the energy is valuable to the US’ long-term strategic interests,” said Milito.

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