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Release Date: 02/13/15
Contacts: Bud Cribley , 907-271-5080  

BLM Approves Greater Mooses Tooth Unit Oil and Gas Development Project in Alaska

Record of Decision Balances Resource Protection and Development; Project will
be First Production from the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska
WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the proposed Greater Mooses Tooth Unit project (GMT1), opening the way for the first production of oil and gas from federal lands in the 23-million acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A).
“I am proud of the collaborative efforts that have brought us to this energy production milestone,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze.  “Today’s decision not only opens the way for the first production of oil and gas in the National Petroleum Reserve, but also provides a new energy source for the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.  The input of a wide array of stakeholders, especially Alaska Native communities, was critical in bringing this project from concept to reality.
“The Department looks forward to continuing to work with ConocoPhillips as it moves forward with safe and responsible energy development on the North Slope,” said Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice Schneider.  “The strategic planning and mitigation measures agreed to by ConocoPhillips are important as we continue to support thoughtful and balanced development in this region and are critical to compensating for the impacts of this project.”
The ROD issued today selects Alternative A as the BLM’s selected development alternative, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers identified as the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative. This plan will provide for up to 33 development and injection wells on a single well pad.  The BLM’s decision incorporates a robust package of mitigation requirements, including an $8 million contribution from ConocoPhillips, Alaska, Inc., into a compensatory mitigation fund.  A Regional Mitigation Strategy will be developed, which will involve input from local Native communities, to determine the best uses of the compensatory mitigation funds.  The ROD also requires implementation of a suite of best management practices to avoid or minimize project impacts. 
As proposed by ConocoPhillips, Alaska, Inc., the project will include construction of an 11.8-acre drilling pad in the northeastern portion of the NPR-A.  It will utilize elevated pipelines and an electric power line that, when completed, will provide access to both Federal and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation oil and gas resources. The project will provide significant economic benefits to Alaska Native Corporations that own a significant portion of the subsurface mineral estate while also delivering a vital product to support America’s energy needs.
The ROD includes best management practices and lease stipulations required by the NPR-A Integrated Activity Plan, as well as project design features to reduce impacts. The ROD also establishes a compensatory mitigation fund to finance development of a long-term landscape level Regional Mitigation Strategy and mitigation projects identified through the Strategy.  The projects will be identified through a transparent process and may include establishment of voluntary conservation easements or leases on Native Corporation land with critical environmental, subsistence or cultural significance and potential remediation of previously disturbed sites.  The Regional Mitigation Strategy will be developed through a collaborative, multi-stakeholder process that includes developing outcomes that benefit subsistence users most directly impacted by the GMT1 project, including members of the Native Village of Nuiqsut.  The mitigation efforts are consistent with BLM efforts to take a landscape-level approach to permitting projects across the country.
Some of the additional best management practices and lease stipulations required by the ROD include ensuring a robust spill prevention and response regime, requiring wildlife protection measures for fleet and aircraft traffic; establishing agreements to ensure Native communities have access to roads for subsistence purposes; and monitoring of wildlife populations, habitat, and ecosystem processes potentially impacted by the development. 
The BLM’s 2013 Area-Wide Integrated Activity Plan identified 11 million acres in the NPR-A for protection of natural values, while making close to 12 million acres and 72 percent of the technically and economically recoverable oil available for development.  Currently, 207 authorized leases cover more than 1.73 million acres in the NPR-A. Since 1999, 10 lease sales in the NPR-A have garnered more than $261 million. In 2011, President Obama directed the Secretary of the Interior to conduct annual oil and gas lease sales in the NPR-A. Lease sales had previously been held every two years. 
Nearly the size of Indiana, the NPR-A, located on Alaska’s North Slope, is the largest single block of federally managed land in the United States. By law, the BLM administers the NPR-A for the purposes of oil and gas development along with protection of areas containing significant subsistence, recreational, fish and wildlife or historical or scenic value. The Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act of 1976 as amended, which transferred the NPR-A from the Navy to the Department of the Interior, mandates protection of these special areas while also providing for expeditious development of oil and gas resources. 

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Last updated: 02-14-2015