Army Corps Launches Review of Proposed North Slope Oil Project
A federal agency is launching an environmental review of plans by the Spanish oil company Repsol to develop what may be one of Alaska’s biggest oil discoveries in years.
The US Army Corps of Engineers announced it will prepare an environmental impact statement associated with the Nanushuk project on the North Slope, near the village of Nuiqsut, that the oil company estimates could yield 120,000 B/D.
Plenty of questions surround the proposal, including when, or if, Armstrong Oil and Gas, a privately held company from Denver, will take over majority ownership and operation, said Lanston Chinn, chief executive of the village’s Native corporation, Kuukpik.
The companies announced restructuring in October that would make Repsol the minority owner. The change is expected to be completed this summer, said Jan Sieving, Repsol’s vice president of public affairs in North America.
Kuukpik owns land in the area and could benefit economically from development. But the corporation, which asked for the environmental impact statement, does not like the project so far, Chinn said.
He said the corporation is concerned that a small company like Armstrong won’t have the capital to properly develop the area. Kuukpik will be watching warily to make sure things such as gravel roads and pipelines don’t threaten subsistence hunting and the environment, he said.
“Subsistence resources and the subsistence lifestyle have to be protected to our liking for oil and gas development to move forward,” Chinn said.
Sieving said Repsol fully supports the Corps’ decision to review the proposal. She said Repsol will continue working closely with the village and regulatory agencies.
“We are committed to environmental and subsistence protections,” she said.
The Corps decided in October that the project could significantly affect the human and natural environment, leading to the review, said Ryan Winn, north section chief for the US Army Corps regulatory division in Alaska.