Repsol discoveries prove trans-Alaska oil pipeline remains viable

Apr 23, 2013

Oil from state lands is sufficient to keep the trans-Alaska oil pipeline operating without the need to drill in sensitive areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
State officials who often speak about the near-imminent shutdown of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline are crying wolf, according to Lois Epstein, an engineer and Arctic Program Director for the Wilderness Society.

Spanish oil and gas company Repsol announced today that it found oil in three exploration wells located on state lands on the North Slope this past winter. Repsol stated in a press release that “Alaska’s North Slope is an especially promising area for Repsol as it has already shown high oil potential.”

“With or without significant changes to the state tax system, there’s still plenty of oil to be found on state lands,” Epstein said.  “These lands are where we should be looking for oil,” she added, “because they are less sensitive ecologically and less critical to subsistence than federal lands in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, key parts of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, and in the Arctic Ocean.”

“Investment in modest upgrades to the trans-Alaska oil pipeline will ensure that it operates and provides revenues to Alaska for many decades,” she said.

During each of the past two winters, Repsol experienced a major spill involving drilling fluids on the North Slope, Epstein said, adding that the state needs to implement measures to prevent such incidents.