Feds take key step toward approving another Conoco development in NPR-A

A flow line curves above the horizon on the western North Slope, not far from where Conoco hopes to build the Greater Mooses Tooth 2 project. (Elizabeth Harball/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

The federal government has taken a key step in the permitting process for a new oil development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, west of Prudhoe Bay.

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The Bureau of Land Management today released a draft environmental impact statement for the Greater Mooses Tooth 2 project, or GMT2. If it goes forward, GMT2 would be ConocoPhillips’s third oil development inside the boundaries of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

“This [environmental impact statement] will help us look at the best way to develop this project, and it’s a really important step in developing on the North Slope,” Conoco spokeswoman Natalie Lowman said.

For Conoco, the permitting process for GMT2 has taken much longer than expected. The company is now aiming for first oil in 2021, a year later than it originally planned. But the company now thinks the project is back on track.

“We believe that permitting is now proceeding on a reasonable schedule,” Lowman said.

Lowman said the $1.5 billion project could produce up to 30,000 barrels of oil per day.

The project would be west of the Village of Nuiqsut. The BLM says potential impacts to Nuiqsut and its subsistence resources will be “of particular interest” as it weighs permitting the development.

Those impacts “may result from hunter avoidance of the area, changes in access to subsistence use areas, resource (particularly caribou) availability, community participation in subsistence activities, aircraft traffic, spills, and rehabilitation of infrastructure upon abandonment,” the agency states in the draft environmental impact statement.

In the document, BLM notes Conoco has taken steps to mitigate impacts to subsistence resources. The agency will take public comments on Conoco’s proposal until May 7.

Elizabeth Harball is a reporter with Alaska's Energy Desk, covering Alaska’s oil and gas industry and environmental policy. She is a contributor to the Energy Desk’s Midnight Oil podcast series. Before moving to Alaska in 2016, Harball worked at E&E News in Washington, D.C., where she covered federal and state climate change policy. Originally from Kalispell, Montana, Harball is a graduate of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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