Feds give thumbs up to scaled down version of Willow Project


The federal government has given a qualified thumbs-up to a scaled-down version of the Willow Project. A Bureau of Land Management final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement released on Wednesday represents a major milestone in the permitting process for the ConocoPhillips project that commenced in 2018. The company, which has not made its final investment decision, is indicating that the scaled down version is still economically viable.

Located in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, the Willow Project could produce 180,000 barrels of oil per day at its peak and deliver $8 billion to $17 billion in new revenue for the federal government, the State of Alaska, and North Slope Borough communities, not to mention significant economic activity in a state that has been in economic decline.

The company says the project, if it gets a final record of decision from the Department of Interior, will be built using materials primarily made and sourced in the United States and has the potential to create over 2,000 construction jobs and 300 long-term jobs.

ConocoPhillips announced the new oil discovery in January 2017. Located in the Bear Tooth Unit in the northeast portion of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), Willow started with two discovery wells, Tinmiaq 2 and 6, which had been drilled on federal leases in early 2016.

A project the size and scope of Willow hasn’t been developed on the North Slope since Alpine was developed in the late 1990s. Additional oil production will keep a key piece of U.S. infrastructure, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, economically viable. The production rate from Willow is estimated to be about a 20% increase over current TAPS throughput.

TAPS is now running at about one quarter of its capacity, with roughly 490,000 barrels of oil per day flowing from the North Slope to the port of Valdez.

“After nearly five years of rigorous regulatory review and environmental analysis, the National Environmental Policy Act process is almost complete and should be concluded without delay. ConocoPhillips looks forward to a final record of decision and is ready to begin construction immediately after receiving a viable ROD and full authorization from all permitting agencies,” said Erec Isaacson, president, ConocoPhillips Alaska.

Alaska Natives are one of the big winners in this decision. Federal law requires 50% of lease revenue from NPR-A projects be made available to a unique grant program that offers significant social and environmental justice benefits to Alaska Native communities.

In the supplemental environmental impact statement, the Bureau of Land Management identified Alternative E as the preferred alternative. Under Alternative E, the federal agency could authorize three drill sites initially, and potentially one additional drill site in the future, pending the final record of decision.

There were five drill sites initially proposed by ConocoPhillips and this alternative is a reduction of project footprint in the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area by more than 40%. The three core drill sites in Alternative E (BT1, BT2, and BT3) reflect an integrated design concept and ConocoPhillips says the path forward with three is “viable.”

ConocoPhillips Alaska intends to immediately initiate gravel road construction once all necessary approvals are in place, and then proceed to a final investment decision, the company says. Mobilization could start as soon as February. Additional North Slope construction activities for Willow will occur throughout the summer and fall. Concurrently, material fabrication will begin in U.S. facilities and the pace of contracting and procurement will increase, the company said.

“We appreciate the strong support for Willow from communities on the North Slope and across the state, as well as from Alaska’s bipartisan congressional delegation,” Isaacson said. “Willow will produce much needed domestic energy while generating substantial public benefits.”

Rick Whitbeck of Power the Future Alaska said that although the decision is not final, the EIS “contained incredibly good news for the Willow project. In spite of #ClimateCult opposition, the right decision was made for America, Alaska & energy independence.”


  1. ……..Then after investments and nearing production, they’ll pronounce a moratorium on further development.

  2. As good news goes, this comes in just behind the Institute for Justice taking on Scott Kendall and the NEA over school choice in Alaska. While others may play the negative Nelly on this, we have to take what good news comes our way and thank the Lord for it.

  3. If the project did not offer the big win for Alaska Natives, the Brandon regime would have killed it in a heartbeat.

  4. Senator Sullivan was just on a talk radio show a bit ago and gave an overview of the Willow project. He strongly urged people to email BLM to voice support. I called Sullivan’s office and was given the direct email of the Alaska BLM director Steven Cohn. [email protected]. There is also a general Alaska blm email on the website — [email protected]. FYI.

    It is pretty telling that the Biden administration wants to shut down energy production in our country but then go begging Venezuela and Saudi Arabia to up their production.

  5. Conoco said they would not accept a scaled down option last month in petroleum news. So where are we with this. Terrible for Alaska if it doesn’t happen.

    • Doug, that is apparently not their current position. I suppose if by scaled down you mean one drill site, then no, they’ve indicated for some time that would not be an economically feasible project. But Conoco is eager to get started on development of the preferred alternative.

      Just for the sake of being transparent and relaying facts, you can see it in their own words: ‘https://alaska.conocophillips.com/newsroom/news-releases/story/final-seis-represents-major-milestone-for-the-willow-project-and-america-s-energy-future/

  6. I had a haircut today in wasilla and the lady cutting my hair about 60 years old was telling me how wonderful Biden was and honest unlike our last president, I didn’t bring up that he was a thief and liked little girls because she had a sharp cutting implement close to my face. Thinking the entire while this lady is precisely why our country is headed straight to hell. How in the heck can people’s eyes be so closed to reality. ?????

    • Dear Editor: Why are you allowing comments on your website that insinuate that the POTUS is a pedophile? I request (as I have previously done without effect) that you post your comment policy, and then strictly adhere to it.

  7. CP wins their project and the Greenie’s receive a smaller footprint. Biden wins both ways much to the Republicans chagrin

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