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AIDEA plan to test for oil, gas in leased land in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 10:13 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It’s no secret the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge contains plenty of oil and natural gas. The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority believes it’s sitting on top of a lot of it, and it wants to know how much.

“We have seven signed leases covering 366,000 acres within the Section 1002 area,” said Alan Weitzner, AIDEA’s executive director. “From our view, we have valid and enforceable leases. We’re looking to go forward with the rights we have under that.”

AIDEA predicts the non-wilderness of the 1002 area holds an estimated 7.6 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The AIDEA Board wants to spend up to $1.5 million on preparing the site for seismic testing to find out how much oil and gas the area contains.

“I do not like that,” said Kathy Tritt, an elders advisor with the Gwich’in Tribe.

She fears the project would harm wildlife in the area, especially caribou.

“If they’re going to have some seismic work going on, they’re going to start doing that, the animals are going to get disturbed, they’re going to start moving away from that area,” Tritt said.

AIDEA though, said its technology will not harm the wildlife or environment.

“The fundamental part of this that we’re looking to fight for is the ability for Alaska to continue to have access to good-paying jobs for Alaskans,” Weitzner said.

He believes the project could create 2,480 direct jobs and 10,100 indirect jobs at peak employment. AIDEA hopes to begin the exploratory work in early 2022.

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