Order also calls for updating ANWR resource assessments

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed a secretarial order to jump-start Alaskan energy production in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (NPR-A) and update resource assessments for areas of the North Slope, including the “1002 area” of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Zinke Signs Order to Jump-Start Alaskan Energy Production in the NPR

Source: BLM

“Working with the Alaska Native community, Interior will identify areas in the NPR-A where responsible energy development makes the most sense and devise a plan to extract resources. We will do it in a way that both respects the environment and traditional uses of the land as well as maintains subsistence hunting and fishing access,” Zinke said in a statement.

The order calls for an appropriate statutory balance of promoting development while protecting surface resources and an evaluation under the existing Integrated Activity Plan on efficiently and effectively maximizing the tracts offered for sale during the next NPR-A lease sale.

The order also directs the Assistant Secretaries of Land and Minerals Management and Water and Science to submit a joint plan to the Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy for updating assessments of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and natural gas resources of Alaska’s North Slope, focusing on Federal lands including the NPR-A and the Section 1002 Area of the ANWR.

The joint plan shall include consideration of new geological and geophysical data, as well as potential for reprocessing existing geological and geophysical data. The Secretarial Order does not reduce, eliminate, or modify any environmental or regulatory requirements for energy development.

Clock is ticking: 31 days to deliver plan

Within 31 days, the Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy is to deliver a plan to Sec. Zinke for reviewing and effectuating the DOI’s actions under the order, the DOI said in a press release.

“North Slope Borough residents recognize the importance of oil and gas to our local economy and the ability of our Borough and city governments to provide public services. We look forward to working with the Secretary to continue to permit responsible development on the North Slope while, at the same time, protecting our wildlife and our subsistence way of life,” North Slope Borough Mayor Harry Brower Jr., said. Brower is an Inupiat whaling captain, whose borough encompasses the NPR-A and ANWR, according to a press release from the DOI.

“This Secretarial Order is exactly the type of announcement that so many Alaskans have been asking for: a smart, timely step to restore access to our lands, throughput to our Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and growth to our economy under reasonable regulations that do not sacrifice environmental protections,” Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski said.


The 1.5 million-acre coastal plain of the 19 million-acre ANWR is the largest unexplored, potentially productive geologic onshore basin in the United States. The primary area of potential oil and gas exploration is on the Section 1002 Area of ANWR, which was specifically set aside by Congress and the President in 1980 because of its potential for oil and natural gas development.

“I’m a geologist. Science is a wonderful thing: it helps us understand what is going on deep below the surface of the earth. We need to use science to update our understanding of the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Congress considers important legislation to responsibly develop there one day. This order takes the important first step in a smart and measured approach to energy development in ANWR,” Zinke said.

The NPR – Alaska holds almost a billion barrels of economically recoverable oil and almost 53 Tcf of gas 

The National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska is the largest block of federally managed land in the United States. In 2010, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated the NPR-A contained approximately 895 million barrels of economically recoverable oil and 52.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

On February 21, 2013, the Secretary of the Interior signed a Record of Decision approving the Integrated Activity Plan for the NPR-A, which sets forth the Bureau of Land Management’s plan for future management of the area. That plan made approximately 11 million of the NPR-A’s 22.8 million acres unavailable for leasing, potentially precluding development of up to 350 million barrels of oil and 45 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.



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