Gov. Frank Murkowski told members of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance Sept. 23 that preliminary results of a state study indicate off-road tundra travel on Alaska’s North Slope could be opened in mid-December, three to four weeks earlier than normal.
Speaking at the association’s annual meeting in Anchorage, the governor said the action would effectively lengthen the three-month North Slope exploration season.
Begun last fall, the study was conducted by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Land, Mining and Water. According to Harry Bader, the division’s northern region land manager, the results will provide the agency with a much better scientific basis for its tundra opening decisions. (See related story in the Aug. 15 edition of Petroleum News.)
The division’s mission from the governor, he said, was to extend the on-tundra work season while maintaining — or exceeding — the current level of tundra protection.
“The results are not in. Our final conclusions will be finished in mid-November, but a preliminary review of the data is very encouraging,” division Director Bob Loeffler told Petroleum News in an interview following the governor’s announcement.
The governor released the information early to accommodate companies that are seeking board approval for their winter exploration projects in Alaska.
“Let’s pray for cold weather on the North Slope,” Loeffler said.
See story in Sept. 26 issue of Petroleum News.