Washington, DC – Two federal resource agencies have reached an agreement in principle with ConocoPhillips regarding the company's proposed Alpine Satellite Development Plan (CD-5) in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA). The agreement fulfills a request from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - the federal agency charged with permitting the project - that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) evaluate the environmental impacts associated with ConocoPhillips' revised project. The Corps is expected to carry out the remaining steps associated with the permit review in the coming weeks.
The agreement in principle confirms that the construction of a pipeline and bridge over the Nigliq Channel of the Colville River is acceptable to the resource agencies so long as the permit application includes conditions that reflect agreements reached among the company, FWS, and the EPA. The conditions include engineering changes and substantial mitigation proposed by the company based on consultations with the resource agencies. The company has also agreed to allow other companies that develop leases in the NPRA to use the same crossing, rather than seek approval for additional channel crossings in the area. This approach will reduce the environmental impacts associated with development of existing and future leases in the NPRA west of the Colville River.
“To harness Alaska's tremendous energy potential for our nation, we must continue to find ways to responsibly expand opportunities for exploration, development, and delivery of resources from the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska” said Interior Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes, who facilitated the discussions among the resource agencies and the company. Hayes serves as Chair of the President's Interagency Working Group on Coordination of Domestic Energy Development and Permitting in Alaska. “I applaud the hard work and collaboration by all parties – including the company and federal agencies – to develop a proposal that meets both the energy objectives of the CD-5 project and that mitigates potential environmental impacts.”
The National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska is a 22.6 million acre area managed by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management. The NPRA is an important resource for domestic oil development. Estimates indicate that the NPRA contains more than one billion barrels of technically recoverable oil.
Earlier this year, the President announced that the Department of the Interior will hold annual lease sales in the NPR-A. The next lease sale will take place on Wednesday, December 7.
President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing the President's Interagency Working Group on Coordination of Domestic Energy Development and Permitting in Alaska on July 12, 2011.