Army Corps to review North Slope oil project by Spanish firm

The Associated Press

A federal agency will conduct an environmental assessment of a Spanish company's plans to develop what it says could be a significant oil field on Alaska's North Slope.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A federal agency will conduct an environmental assessment of a Spanish company's plans to develop what it says could be a significant oil field on Alaska's North Slope.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced last week that it will prepare an environmental impact statement for Repsol's Nanushuk project near the village of Nuiqsut. Repsol estimates that the project could yield 120,000 barrels of oil there per day, The Alaska Dispatch News reported (http://bit.ly/1PLU98M).

Kuukpik Corp., the village's Native corporation, owns land in the area and called for the environmental assessment. The corporation's chief executive, Lanston Chinn, has voiced concerns with the project's impact on subsistence hunting and the environment.

"Subsistence resources and the subsistence lifestyle have to be protected to our liking for oil and gas development to move forward," Chinn said.

Jan Sieving, Repsol's vice president of public affairs in North America, said the company supports the Corps' decision to review the proposal and that it will continue to work with the village and regulatory agencies.

"We are committed to environmental and subsistence protections," Sieving said.

Repsol and its partner in the project, Denver-based Armstrong Oil and Gas, announced restructuring in October that would make Repsol the minority owner. The change is expected to be completed this summer, Sieving said.

Chinn said the Native corporation is also concerned that a small company like Armstrong won't have the capital to properly develop the area.

The Corps determined in October that the project could potentially have significant environmental impacts, which led to the review, said Ryan Winn, north section chief for the U.S. Army Corps regulatory division in Alaska. The environmental analysis will consider development alternatives designed to reduce those impacts, according to a notice from the Corps published Thursday in the Federal Register.

The project calls for drilling near the east channel of the Colville River on both state and Native corporation lands. The plans include building 25 miles of gravel roads to protect the three proposed drill sites, two bridges the length of football fields, a wastewater and water treatment plant and other facilities.

The environmental review process could take 18 months or last several years, Winn said.

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Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, http://www.adn.com

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