BLM approves ConocoPhillips’ permit for NPR-A project

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has approved a drilling permit and right-of-way for ConocoPhillips’ proposed Greater Mooses Tooth 1, or GMT-1, oil development project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, or NPR-A.

ConocoPhillips spokeswoman Natalie Lowman said the agency’s approvals were good news for her company and its minority partner, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. However, she said there is not yet a timetable for sanctioning or final approval of the project, which is expected to produce 30,000 barrels a day at peak and cost $900 million to construct.

The regulatory approvals are significant, however, because they set precedents on federal permits for future development in the NPR-A, 23-million-acre federal petroleum reserve.

GMT-1 is in the northeastern part of the petroleum reserve and about eight miles west of the producing Alpine field on state lands, which ConocoPhillips operates.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker lauded the work by ConocoPhillips and BLM on the permit and right-of-way, following a lengthy regulatory procedure. “The NPR-A is estimated to hold more than 800 million barrels of oil,” the governor said. When it is developed, GMT-1 will help the state offset production declines from existing North Slope fields. 

Rex Rock, CEO of Arctic Slope Regional Corp., or ASRC, the Alaska Native development corporation for the North Slope, was also pleased. ASRC owns the mineral rights at GMT-1, which were obtained through its land selection rights in the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

“After a long and trying permit process, BLM has now lifted a couple of the last regulatory roadblocks to allow ConocoPhillips to move forward to develop ASRC minerals from GMT1,” Rock said in a statement. “GMT1 is an important next development of ASRC's oil and gas resources by ConocoPhillips west of the Colville River Unit," Rock said.

GMT-1 would be the first commercial oil development inside the NPR-A, a reserve established by the government in 1923 as a petroleum reserve although no commercial deposits of oil have been found until ConocoPhillips’ and Anadarko’s discovery.

10/26/2015 - 8:55am