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Environmental activists are bracing for one last push to try and cancel the Willow oil project in Alaska, which they have slammed as a “carbon bomb”.
The project, led by ConocoPhillips, was awarded to the company by the Trump Administration’s Bureau of Land Management in 2020. The project could deliver 160,000 bpd of crude, the BLM said at the time, with reserves estimated at between 400 and 750 million barrels. The lifetime of the project was estimated at up to 30 years in 2019.
Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that President Biden could approve the $8-billion project with a reduced number of wells, which sparked concern among activists and they are now preparing for battle.
According to a new Bloomberg report, this time they are using a new tactic that involves a focus on efforts to push for approval for the project at a reduced scale that would render it uneconomical rather than trying to stop its approval altogether.
The latest official input from the federal government came this week in the form of a report published by the Bureau of Land Management, which features a suggestion that four drill sites would be better than five, and another one should be deferred pending additional environmental impact analysis.
According to the BLM, fewer drilling sites would reduce the risk for local ecosystems, reduce freshwater consumption by the project, and reduce the total length of pipelines related to the project.
The Willow project has been seen as a fine balancing act for the Biden administration as it seeks the middle ground between its emission reduction ambitions and the immediate need for hydrocarbons to secure the country's energy supply.
The final decision on Willow is scheduled to be made in a month and the BLM has indicated an approval is not certain at all.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com