May 16, 2008 --- Vol. 14, No. 54May 2008

BLM won’t open Teshekpuk Lake to leasing

The Bureau of Land Management won’t open 219,000 acres of Teshekpuk Lake and its islands to oil and gas leasing, and will defer leasing for 10 years on 430,000 acres north and east of Teshekpuk Lake that are currently open for leasing. Those provisions are included in BLM’s supplemental final plan for Northeast National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, released today.

The agency said lands it would make available for leasing in the northeast portion of NPR-A could yield nearly 3 billion barrels of oil; the lands could also provide trillions of cubic feet of natural gas.

BLM said it expects to hold a lease sale this fall for available portions of the northeast area as well as portions of the northwest planning area.

North Slope Borough Mayor Edward Itta expressed support for the plan’s deferral of acreage near Teshekpuk Lake. “BLM listened to local communities and it made the plan better,” Itta said. “The lease sale can proceed while one of the region’s most sensitive wildlife habitats will be protected. It’s a win-win.”

“We appreciate the collaboration of Mayor Itta and the North Slope Borough in the development of this plan,” said BLM Alaska State Director Tom Lonnie. “Their input will assist the BLM in the management of these important lands.”Lonnie also said the updated plan can “adapt new information and new technology through its performance-based requirements.”

BLM began developing the supplement in December 2006 in response to a Sept. 25, 2006, U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska decision that the 2005 integrated activity plan-environmental impact statement failed to adequately address cumulative impacts. The Northeast draft supplement went out for public comment last August. BLM said it modified and selected alternative D as the preferred alternative in its final plan.

Note: See story in May 25 issue of Petroleum News, available to subscribers online on Friday, May 23, at

Tundra travel closed on all state North Slope land

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources has closed all state-owned land on the North Slope to winter tundra travel as from 12:00 p.m. today. Any off-road travel currently in progress must be completed within 72 hours. People wanting off-road travel exceptions must apply to Alaska’s Division of Mining, Land and Water for approval.

DNR anticipates summer off-road travel commencing on or after 6:00 a.m. on July 15. Summer tundra travel requires permits, specific project approval and the use of vehicles approved for off-road summer operations.

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