BLM to prepare environmental study of NPR-A proposals

Posted: Friday, March 21, 2003

FAIRBANKS - The Bureau of Land Management will begin writing a draft environmental impact statement on five proposed drilling sites in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

The agency on Thursday concluded a series of public meetings on the topic. It will field written comments until March 31, with the draft EIS expected this fall.

A small group gathered in Fairbanks on Thursday night to speak to the BLM and other agencies about the proposed satellite sites of ConocoPhillips' Alpine field. The Alpine field now includes two drilling sites just east of the NPR-A.

Buzz Otis, a partner at Great Northwest Inc., supported the proposed drilling, saying ConocoPhillips' track record on the North Slope is commendable, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

ConocoPhillips' proposals call for the creation of gravel pads, several miles of gravel road, a gravel airstrip, pipeline and utilities.

Mara Bacsujlaky, assistant director of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center, asked the agencies to stand firm on previous regulations concerning road construction and drilling site location. She said the ConocoPhillips proposals were at odds with earlier leasing regulations.

Production on the first two satellite fields, which are just east of the NPR-A, could begin in 2005, with oil production possible by mid-2006, said Sally Rothwell, EIS coordinator for ConocoPhillips.

Construction of a satellite site within the NPR-A could begin by 2007 and would be the first producing field in the reserve. The tentative ConocoPhillips plans call for construction of the final two sites in 2009 and 2010.

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