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Begich Presses New Interior Secretary on North Slope Oil Development

Hosts Anchorage Meeting with Developers, Travels to Slope Saturday

U.S. Senator Mark Begich is capitalizing on Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s first visit to Alaska as secretary to push for expanded North Slope oil and gas development on both land and off-shore.

Begich travels with Jewell to the Slope all day Saturday to focus on development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

“I want Secretary Jewell to hear and see first-hand how Alaskans can develop energy resources for America under some of the most challenging conditions on earth,” Begich said. “She got an earful from oil and gas companies and Native corporations yesterday and I look forward to showing her how Alaskans use the best technology to produce oil and gas in Arctic Alaska.”

On Thursday, Begich hosted a meeting between Jewell and more than a dozen Alaska companies, including the state’s largest oil and gas companies, independent operators and Native corporations doing Arctic development.

They told the secretary an Interagency Working Group established by her predecessor and modeled after legislation Begich introduced, is working well to coordinate off-shore oil development and should continue. They also urged the secretary to ensure more predictability in drilling schedules.

Jewell, a former oil company engineer who worked on aspects of the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline, said President Obama supports continued responsible offshore oil and gas development in Alaska’s Arctic. She said her department is challenged by both automatic budget cuts and lawsuits – an average of three filed a day – to meet the demands of laws passed by Congress.

On Saturday, Begich and Jewell fly over NPRA and then to ConocoPhillips’ Alpine development west of Prudhoe Bay. Alpine is a model North Slope development project, with limited roads and environmental impact, estimated to contain 550 million barrels of oil.

Following the Alpine briefing, Begich and Jewell will view old so-called legacy oil wells on the Slope to discuss clean-up plans. The delegation ends up in Barrow for a meeting with the community’s leaders.

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