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Tariq Siddiqui's picture
COO Upstream EP Advisors LLC

Oil & Energy | Business Development | Capital Projects | Offshore Wind -  Proven leader in offshore development and operations, with 25+ years’ expertise in managing business through cycles...

  • Member since 2021
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  • Aug 23, 2021

A federal judge in the state of Alaska has voided permits for a ConocoPhillips' project on federal land located on the state’s North Slope, leaving the future of the programme in doubt.

The US operator discovered the Willow oil play in the north-east section of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska in 2017. ConocoPhillips the following year said it believed between 400 million and 750 million barrels of oil equivalent were in the play, and that Willow cold produce as much as 100,000 barrels per day of oil.


  • The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) during the Trump administration approved permitting of the project. Meanwhile, the Biden administration, in spite of other moves to limit oil and gas-related activities on federal lands, defended issuing of the permits.
  • The Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups filed suit against the project in November 2020, claiming the BLM failed to take into full account the damage the Willow project would have on regional wildlife and the environment.
  • According to the court decision; “BLM acted contrary to law insofar as it developed its alternatives analysis based on the view that ConocoPhillips had the right to extract all possible oil and gas from its leases.”


  • ConocoPhillips indicated in a brief statement to Upstream that it has yet to make a decision on how to proceed in the wake of the decision.


The decision is viewed differently by both sides of the political divide; “This is a huge victory for our climate and polar bears,” said Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. “This is a horrible decision. We are giving America over to our enemies piece by piece. The Willow project would power America with 160,000 barrels a day, provide thousands of family-supporting jobs and greatly benefit the people of Alaska." said Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy. Which ever side you are on, make no mistake the costs and stakes will increase and it will become increasing difficult to seek approvals for the fossil fuel projects – oil companies need to take a long-term sustainable view.


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