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Release Date: 10/22/15
Contacts: Mitch Snow , 202-912-7368  

BLM Approves First Federal Production Well in the National Petroleum Reserve

The Greater Mooses Tooth Project will be the first onshore production from federally-managed land in the Arctic

ANCHORAGE – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today approved a drilling permit and offered a right-of-way grant (ROW) for the proposed Greater Mooses Tooth Unit oil and gas development project (GMT1), opening the way for the first production of oil and gas from federal land in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A).

“Today the BLM achieved an important milestone for realizing the promise of the NPR-A Integrated Activity Plan,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze. “I’m proud of this collaborative effort to ensure thoughtful, balanced, and responsible development in the NPR-A that will provide additional economic security for Alaskans as well as a new source of oil for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.”
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 development of oil and gas resources.
The GMT1 project, proposed by ConocoPhillips, Alaska, Inc., (CPAI) includes construction of an 11.8-acre drilling pad in the northern portion of the 23-million acre NPR-A. Along with above-ground elevated pipelines and an electric power line, the GMT1 project will provide access to both federal and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) oil and gas resources. The ASRC was established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. This decision enables ASRC to reasonably develop the petroleum resources from corporation-owned lands.
“We continue to work extensively with ConocoPhillips, Alaska Inc. in developing a responsible path forward in the development of oil and gas resources in the NPR-A,” said BLM Alaska State Director Bud Cribley. “This important milestone lays the groundwork for future development and our commitment to serve America’s energy needs and Alaska’s economic viability.”
The drilling permit and ROW grant implements the best management practices and lease stipulations required by the 2013 NPR-A Integrated Activity Plan, as well as additional project design features to reduce impacts as required by the Record of Decision (ROD) for the GMT1, approved earlier this year. The ROD also established a compensatory mitigation fund to finance development of a long-term landscape level Regional Mitigation Strategy and mitigation projects identified through the Strategy. The Regional Mitigation Strategy is currently being developed through a collaborative, multi-stakeholder process that includes representatives from across Alaska.
The BLM’s 2013 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, 212 authorized leases cover more than 1.75 million acres in the reserve; however, only exploratory drilling has occurred in the reserve to date. The Greater Mooses Tooth project would facilitate the first production and transportation of oil to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline from federal lands in the NPR-A.
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. 
Since 1999, 11 lease sales in the NPR-A have garnered more than $261 million, half of which was shared with the State of Alaska. On November 18, 2015, the BLM will conduct its 12th annual lease sale in the NPR-A, which will include 143additional tracts covering approximately 1.5 million acres.
According to the BLM, market conditions and other factors determine when the wells will be drilled. But, an approved Application for Permit to Drill is valid for two years or until the lease expires, whichever occurs first.

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: 10-22-2015