March 25, 2015 --- Vol. 21, No. 10March 2015

Point Hope withdraws from Chukchi lease sale appeal

The Native Village of Point Hope has withdrawn from a longstanding appeal against the validity of the 2008 Chukchi Sea lease sale in which Shell, ConocoPhillips, Statoil and other companies purchased oil and gas leases. Point Hope, concerned about the potential impacts of offshore oil and gas activities on subsistence hunting, had joined with 12 environmental organizations in challenging the environmental impact statement for the sale. The appeal has resulted in delays in Chukchi Sea exploration activities.

Apparently, in a unanimous vote, on March 17 the Native Village of Point Hope decided to withdraw from the appeal.

"This move is an important one for our community," said Jack Schaefer, Native Village of Point Hope president. "After careful consideration, we realized this litigation was preventing us from having meaningful discussions inside our region regarding responsible resource development. We will continue to closely monitor outer continental shelf drilling activities while we pursue title and ownership of our ocean as an aboriginal claim to maintain control of our area - which includes revenue sharing of our oil."

Rex Rock Sr., president of Arctic Slope Regional Corp. and a whaling captain from Point Hope, commended the village council's decision.

"ASRC welcomes the news from the Native Village of Point Hope," Rock said. "This recent action demonstrates that when we come together as one people - free from outside influence - we can progress our region forward in a productive manner."

Rock said that ASRC, the Native regional corporation for the North Slope, shares the desire of the Village of Point Hope and other whaling communities to ensure protection for subsistence traditions.

"Withdrawing from this lawsuit removes the barrier that has prevented us from working together, Rock said. "Now we can sit at the table to have meaningful discussions on how to move our North Slope communities forward."


Repsol applies for North Slope unit

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas said March 23 that Repsol E&P USA Inc. has applied to form the Pikka unit on the North Slope between the Colville River unit to the west, the Oooguruk unit to the east and the Placer and Tofkat units to the south.

The proposed unit covers some 63,304.47 acres in 31 state and joint state-Arctic Slope Regional Corp. oil and gas leases. Thirty of the leases are held 70 percent by Repsol, 22.5 percent by 70 &148 LLC and 7.5 percent by GMT Exploration Co. LLC. One of the leases is held 70 percent by Repsol and 30 percent by 70 &148.

Repsol has been exploring in the proposed unit area since 2012, when it drilled the Qugruk No. 2. In 2013 the company drilled four wells and two sidetrack horizontal wells and in 2014 it drilled two wells and one sidetrack in the proposed unit area.

In its exploration plan Repsol said it would drill three wells during the next five years, including wells it is currently drilling, the Qugruk Nos. 8, 301 and 9.

Repsol's Chief Executive Officer Josu Jon Imaz told analysts in a March 2 earnings call that the company will make a decision on whether to pursue development in Alaska early next year.


See stories in March 29 issue, available online Friday, March 27 at

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