December 14, 2004 --- Vol. 10, No. 117December 2004

BLM has opened NPR-A to tundra travel

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management opened the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska for winter tundra travel at noon Dec. 11.

BLM Alaska Region spokeswoman Jody Weil said this morning that this is one day earlier than BLM opened NPR-A last winter. The opening was based on six inches of snow cover and a frost depth of 12 inches, she said.

The state of Alaska opened the eastern portion of its coastal plain Dec. 10, two weeks earlier than in 2004.

Weil said ConocoPhillips plans to build 55 miles of ice road in NPR-A this winter to its Kokoda prospect some 30 miles south of Teshekpuk Lake, while it plans to drill two winter exploration wells.

USGS estimates 5.5 tcf of gas, 173 million barrels of oil in Yukon Flats

The U.S. Geological Survey said today that it has completed a new assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources in the Yukon Flats region of east-central Alaska, and estimates that the region could contain 5.5 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas, 173 million barrels of undiscovered oil, and 127 million barrels of natural gas liquids in conventional accumulations. These are technically recoverable resources, the amount that may be recovered using current technology.

The Yukon Flats region, some 13,500 square miles, is about 100 miles northeast of Fairbanks and east of the trans-Alaska pipeline. Major landowners are the federal government, the state of Alaska and Native corporations and villages.

The USGS said its assessment is based on available geological, geophysical and geochemical evidence, “including new information obtained by recent USGS field and laboratory studies.

“This work found strong evidence for the existence of potential source rocks and reservoirs of oil and gas in Yukon Flats,” the agency said. The USGS said the one exploration well drilled in the area found small quantities of natural gas, but no petroleum production has occurred from the Yukon Flats region.

State releases Mat-Su coalbed methane enforceable standards

The state of Alaska has released its enforceable standards for coalbed methane development on state-owned acreage in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

“When these standards are viewed in conjunction with HB 531, passed by the Legislature last season, the state of Alaska has put in place a comprehensive set of measures to keep the quality of life enjoyed by the residents of the Mat-Su Borough, while allowing for reasonable exploration and possible development of coalbed methane resources,” Commission of Natural Resources Tom Irwin said in a Dec. 13 statement.

Irwin said the measures “will protect residents’ drinking water, significantly reduce any potential noise impacts, require careful planning for any new roads or pipelines and maintain real property values.”

The department has also released responses to comments on the public review draft.

Both documents can be viewed at

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