Brooks Range
Grizzly along the Denali Highway Rafting the Gulkana National Wild River Native woman drying salmon on racks ATV rider on trails near Glennallen Surveyor
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Oil & Gas Right-of-Ways (ROW)

In Alaska, a right-of-way is an authorization to use a specific piece of public land for a specific project. The authorization is typically for roads, pipelines, power lines, or communication sites for a time period appropriate to the life of the project. The vast majority of rights-of-way granted in Alaska are authorized by Title V of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) (43 U.S.C. 1761-1771), the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act of 1976 (42 U.S.C. 6501 et. seq.), or the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA) (Section 28 of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, as amended, 43 U.S.C. 185) for oil and gas-related activities. The Mineral Leasing Act is not applicable to the National Petroleum Reserve- Alaska (NPR-A).

Travel in the NPR-A for oil and gas exploration occurs during the winter using an ice road or snow trail. Under the Alaska Energy program, the BLM Arctic Field Office frequently authorizes rights-of-way for off-lease activities in the NPR-A, such as building an ice road or snow trail to a tract of public land leased to oil and gas companies. The BLM can only authorize rights-of-way on BLM-managed public lands, if the activity occurs beyond those lands, you must get authorization from the appropriate landowner.

Here is a simplified illustration of the process:

Scenario: Oil Company ABC leases a tract of public land from the BLM in the NPR-A and wants to drill an exploratory well on their leased land. To access the well site, they need to cross the winter tundra on an ice road or snow trail to move the necessary equipment to the tract. 

Land Status Map illustration showing the process of getting a right-of-way from each land owner to cross differently owned land.

Company ABC must get authorizations from the appropriate land owners to reach their leased tract across the winter tundra using an ice road or snow trail. As this illustration shows, Company ABC will need an authorization from the Native corporation, State of Alaska, and BLM for their right-of-way. The BLM can only authorize right-of-ways on BLM-managed public lands.

Getting a Right-of-Way

For access to a lease in the NPR-A, contact the BLM Arctic Field Office. If all access is on-lease, you are not required to have a right-of-way, but still coordinate with the Arctic Field Office, as analysis of the project through the National Environmental Policy Act process is needed.

If you need a right-of-way for the Cook Inlet area, contact the appropriate land owner (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, State of Alaska, Native corporation, private land owner, etc.).

You can find more information and forms at the BLM Rights-of-Way website. Right-of-way information must be included in a Sundry Form or you can apply for a right-of-way using Standard Form 299. Each of these forms are available at the above link.