Congress is close to lifting a 40-year-old ban on energy development in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but drilling for oil in that frozen wilderness may still be years away as the effort faces exhaustive environmental reviews and likely lawsuits.
It could be a decade or more before any well is drilled, following required environmental scrutiny and permit reviews—and then the inevitable lawsuits from local communities and environmental groups opposed to any development in that rugged wilderness.
"It’s still an open question about whether drilling will ever happen there," said Matt Lee-Ashley, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and former Interior Department official. "It’s hard to image that drilling will occur in the next 10 years—or ever."
The House voted on 19 December for a tax bill that includes a provision mandating that the Interior Department hold lease sales in the so-called 1002 area of the Arctic Refuge, a coastal portion of the 19-million-acre federally protected wilderness area. The refuge is estimated to contain 11.8 billion barrels of technically recoverable crude.
The Senate was set to vote on the measure later in the day. After a procedural hiccup, the House will need to revote on it on 20 December. If passed, it will go to President Donald Trump for his signature.
After years of dogged effort, the vote is a victory for Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, the measure’s chief benefactor. Republicans included a provision that would have sped up federal environmental reviews, but that was stripped out of the measure because it ran afoul of budget rules.
Read the full story here.
Don't miss our latest HSE content, delivered to your inbox twice monthly. Sign up for the HSE Now newsletter. If you are not logged in, you will receive a confirmation email that you will need to click on to confirm you want to receive the newsletter.
23 May 2019
- Moscow, Russia
Reserve your place today
17 Jun 2019
- Dallas, Texas
Get your training course place today
26 - 27 Jun 2019
- Paris, France
Let's get digital with insights and inspiration on how technology can optimise results
17 - 19 Jun 2019
- Austin, Texas, USA
Reserve your place today at this joint society event
22 - 24 Jul 2019
- Denver, Colorado, USA
Book your place at this event today
HSE Now is a source for news and technical information affecting the health, safety, security, environment, and social responsibility discipline of the upstream oil and gas industry.
©2003-2019 Society of Petroleum Engineers, All Rights Reserved.