The Bureau of Land Management will have the final amended plan/environmental impact statement for its Northeast National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska planning area out for public comment soon, with a preferred alternative which opens the area north of Teshekpuk Lake to leasing in seven large tracts.
Henri Bisson, BLM’s Alaska state director, described the plan to the Resource Development Council this morning.
BLM began reviewing decisions made in the 1998 northeast plan in 2002 and released a draft plan amendment/EIS in June 2004. That plan drew more than 220,000 comments, Bisson said, all of which have been analyzed and considered.
Under the proposed alternative, Bisson said, “significantly” more land will be available for leasing and winter exploration, but BLM is “going to defer leasing of Teshekpuk Lake itself, about 211,000 acres,” because the lake has sensitive fisheries and wildlife values and “would be very challenging both economically and technically to explore and develop at this time.”
The amended plan divides the area north of Teshekpuk Lake, not proposed for leasing in the draft, into seven large tracts, ranging in size from some 46,000 to 59,000 acres, available for leasing and winter exploration. In the past, BLM leased high-potential tracts in 5,000-acre leases, Bisson said.
Within the seven proposed lease tracts north of the lake, Bisson said specific areas have been identified where development could occur — and where it could not occur. And each of the seven tracts would have a maximum limit of 300 acres of permanent surface disturbance permitted. The 300 acres does not include “linear features” such as pipelines.
Once the amendment is released there will be a 30-day public comment period, and, Bisson said, if the secretary of the Department of the Interior agrees with the BLM recommendation, BLM expects to have a lease sale in July in the northeast portion of NPR-A.
Editor’s note: See complete story in Jan. 23 issue of Petroleum News.