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Willow Drilling Project Can Break Ground

ConocoPhillips’ Willow oil-drilling project on Alaska’s North Slope will soon begin construction, thanks to a federal judge who ruled in favor of the federal government this week, E&E News’s ENERGYWIRE (subscription) reports.

What’s going on: “Judge Sharon Gleason of the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska said the energy company could begin work . . . on the $8 billion Willow drilling facility as she reviews the substance of environmental groups’ challenge to the Biden administration’s approval of the project.”

Why it’s important: The Willow project, which the Biden administration approved last month following years of environmental analysis and regulatory reviews, is expected to produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil per day at its peak. That will make it the most productive Alaskan oilfield in decades.

  • The undertaking is expected to create 300 permanent jobs and up to 2,500 jobs during construction, according to ConocoPhillips.
  • It could generate between $8 billion and $17 billion in new revenue for Alaska, the federal government and local communities, the Bureau of Land Management has said.

A win: The judge’s ruling “is a win for ConocoPhillips and Alaska lawmakers who have lobbied President Joe Biden’s Interior Department to allow construction of 199 oil wells in the 23-million-acre reserve.”

  • It’s also welcome news for Alaska’s congressional delegation, state legislators and many Native Alaskan leaders, who anticipate solid tax revenue from the project.
  • “‘North Slope communities have waited nearly a generation for the Willow Project to advance, offering long-term economic stability and affirming our right to self-determination. The U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska’s decision moves North Slope communities one step closer toward this economically secure future,’ Nagruk Harcharek, president of Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat, said in a statement.”

The last word: “Manufacturers know that we must continue developing reliable sources of American energy and can do that in a way that still allows us to achieve critical environmental goals,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said recently. “The Willow project is one such opportunity, which is why we advocated for its approval. Projects like this strengthen manufacturing’s competitiveness and are essential to bolstering domestic supply chains and job creation.”

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