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Arctic drilling plan in Alaska hits roadblock

CommoditiesFeb 21, 2021 06:25AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A polar bear keeping close to her young along the Beaufort Sea coast in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Plans for seismic surveys to help find oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge have fizzled due to a lack of protection for polar bears, according to a brief statement Saturday from the Department of the Interior.

The Kaktovik Inupiat Corp (KIC), the Native-owned company that applied for permission to conduct the survey, failed to do the required work to identify polar bear dens in the region that would be surveyed, Interior spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said in an emailed statement.

The likely demise of the seismic plan is the latest in a series of setbacks that have deflated the decades-long ambition to convert the refuge into an oil-producing frontier.

Alaska's oil production has been waning since the late 1980s, when the state produced more than 2 million barrels of crude per day. Now its output is roughly 500 bpd.

Ex-President Donald Trump passed tax legislation in 2017 that would have allowed for drilling in the ANWR, and the federal government held a lease sale in the last days of his presidency.

Identification of den sites was needed for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to grant KIC an incidental harassment authorization, a permit that would allow seismic operations near polar bears, Schwartz said.

“The company was advised today that their request is no longer actionable,” she said in her statement.

KIC had planned, through contractor SAExploration, to conduct seismic surveys on 352,416 acres within the refuge’s coastal plain. The company missed a Feb. 13 deadline to perform its aerial den-detection work, Schwartz said.

The Jan. 6 ANWR lease sale drew qualifying bids for only 11 tracts, most from an Alaska state agency that was participating as a backstop in case oil companies did not submit bids.

President Joseph Biden and Interior Secretary-designee Deb Haaland oppose oil development in the refuge.

Arctic drilling plan in Alaska hits roadblock
 

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Comments (3)
Skip Robinson
Skip Robinson Feb 21, 2021 9:07AM ET
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People froze to death in TX and some folks want to stop the oil production under the false narrative of protecting the environment. I'm all for green energy but not at the price of the loss of human life. It's just like the pipeline project getting shut down. A pipeline is the safest way to transport oil and the leak detection capabilities are far greater today than ever before. Our own politicians and bureaucracies are crushing the private sector in so many ways with over 120 different taxes and regulatory fees. Then they wonder why people need stimulus checks and 53% of all people are no considered low wage earners as the swamp gets richer.  Socialism and fascism are truly dangerous ideologies that have never worked.
Parekh Kar
Parekh Kar Feb 21, 2021 9:07AM ET
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there is a narrative being pushed down the throat of the people of climate change when deforestation and rapid urbanisation is thrown out of the window
Dan Diaz
Dan Diaz Feb 21, 2021 9:07AM ET
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Instead of 800,000+ barrels of oil running down the Keystone daily. Now they’ll have to use 4,000+ semi trucks and 1,300+ train cars to move it. DAILY. The stoppin of Keystone was never about the enviornment.
GREG LEGAKIS
GREG LEGAKIS Feb 21, 2021 8:27AM ET
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Former President Trump, not "Ex-President" Trump. Bias much?
Kelly Don
Kelly Don Feb 21, 2021 6:54AM ET
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Cute
 
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