Alaska Federal Reserve Eyed for Drilling
Natural gas producers for the most part last week backed
Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt's proposed plan to re-open a large
federal reserve site in northern Alaska to oil and natural gas
The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, which represents
the governors of 29 oil- and gas-producing states, called Babbitt's
decision a "victory" for Alaska and every other state with an
interest in natural resource development. But the Independent
Petroleum Associaton of America didn't think the secretary's
proposal went far enough. The independent producer group had hoped
Interior would open the entire Northeast quadrant of the National
Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) to oil and gas exploration
The Interior plan calls for producers to resume leasing on about
87% of a 4.6 million-acre-site in the NPR-A, which is located in
far north Alaska in the North Slope area between Brooks Range and
the Arctic Ocean, and west of Prudhoe Bay. The reserve region has
been off limits to exploratory activity since 1982-1984.
The department's proposal is open to comments from industry,
environmentalists and the public during a 30-day period, which
began on Friday and will end Sept. 8th. Babbitt is not expected to
make any substantive changes to the proposal, according to Anne
Jeffery, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management in Alaska.
The area could be open to leasing within three to six months after
the secretary signs the decision, she noted.
Comments can be sent to the NPR-A Planning Team, Bureau of Land
Management, Alaska State Office (930), 222 W. 7th Ave. #13,
Anchorage, AK, 99513. Also, they can be sent via internet at:
firstname.lastname@example.org, or to the NPR-A website at
http://aurora.ak.blm.gov/npra/ before the September deadline.
The Interior proposal follows an 18-month study during which the
department, the state of Alaska and local officials studied the
environmental and economic ramifications of allowing oil and gas
exploration and development in the region. If the area is open for
leasing, the BLM put the planning area's oil resource estimate at
500 million barrels at $18 per barrel, and 2,200 million barrels at
$30 per barrel. Estimates for natural gas resources were not
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