The Bureau of Land Management approved a ConocoPhillips-led oil exploration project in Alaska, which could yield some 160,000 barrels of crude daily when it becomes operational, the BLM said.
“President Trump made his administration focus on American energy independence and the freedom it provides from day one of his term,” Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said in the news release. “This decision will make a significant contribution to keeping oil flowing down the 800-mile Trans Alaska Pipeline decades into the future while delivering federal and state revenue as well as important impact assistance to the affected native communities.”
“The project is an important job creator for families in Alaska, with more than 1,000 jobs expected during peak construction and more than 400 jobs during operations, creating more revenue for the State, and offering protections for important resource values such as caribou and subsistence activities,” said the head of BLM Alaska, Chad Padgett.
Alaska is one of the oldest oil-producing regions in the United States, but lately production has been on a steady decline, which has prompted authorities to look for ways to reverse the decline, which has affected the state’s income. Washington selected Conoco’s Willow plan last year. The plan will involve the construction of roads, one or two airstrips, a gravel mine, and more than 300 miles of pipelines.
The Willow project has reserves estimated at 400 to 750 million barrels of crude and will be instrumental for the reversal of Alaska’s declining production. Opposition from environmentalists, however, remains.
“The attacks on the Arctic just continue to escalate. The finalization of oil and gas plans for the Willow project and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are a one-two punch to wildlife including imperiled Southern Beaufort Sea polar bears and their critical habitat,” said the Alaska program director of Defenders of Wildlife, Nicole Whittington-Evans, as quoted by The Hill.