The Willow Project takes a step forward toward development

Alaska's North Slope got the unofficial thumbs up for a massive oil and gas field.
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 4:57 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) gave the unofficial thumbs up today to develop a massive oil and gas field on Alaska’s North Slope, opening up the potential for the Willow Project to move forward.

The agency released its final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, citing what it calls “flaws” in an August 2021 decision by the U.S. District Court of Alaska that halted permits of the Willow Master Development Plan, also known as the Willow Project.

The statement tweaked previous proposed reports on the sustainability and legality of the project, which supporters say would help fill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline by producing more than 100-thousand barrels of oil a day and would create billions of dollars in state revenue.

ConocoPhillips Alaska, the chief developer behind the project applauded the decision, while conservation groups criticized the move.

“More than 2,500 constructions jobs could be created, with 300 long-term positions opening up,” said Conoco Phillips Alaska.

The nonprofit environmental group, Earthjustice, has concerns about the number of wells that would be created, in addition to the hundreds of miles of pipeline and roads that would be constructed in vulnerable areas of Alaska.

ConocoPhillips wants to create 5 drilling sites as part of its Willow Project while the Bureau of Land Management calls for up to 3 drilling sites being created as the preferred alternative.

According to AP Alaska, “the U.S. Interior Department said in a separate statement, ‘that it has “substantial concerns” about the project and the report’s preferred alternative, “including direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions and impact to wildlife and Alaska native subsistence’.”

AP Alaska notes that a different alternative could be the final decision. Just because there is a preferred alternative does not mean this establishes a commitment or decision.