Legal action looming to stop Peregrine oil and gas project in Alaska’s NPR-A

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The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has said it intends to sue the United States Department of the Interior (DOI) for insufficiently verifying the potential impacts of oil and gas development from 88 Energy Ltd.’s Peregrine project. in Alaska on the southern Beaufort Sea polar bear. population.

“With only about 900 bears remaining, the southern Beaufort Sea population is the most endangered bear population in the world,” the nonprofit conservation group said. “Scientists have determined that people cannot suffer injury or death from oil and gas activities. “

In a 60-day notice of intent to prosecute filed on December 22, the CBD alleged that the DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under former President Trump failed to comply with the cash law in endangered by giving the green light to the project in the national petroleum reserve. Alaska (NPR-A).

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“The Trump administration approved the project just before stepping down, but the company needs the approval of the Biden administration to drill new wells,” the CBD said. The association is seeking to immediately suspend operations and deny subsequent drilling permits to Peregrine.

Planning for the second well assessment

Currently in the appraisal phase, Peregrine is expected to contain an average net resource potential of 1.6 billion boe, according to an August investor presentation by Australian firm 88 Energy. The company drilled the first appraisal well at Peregrine in the first quarter of 2021 and plans to drill a second appraisal well in 1Q2022.

The 22 million acre NPR-A is the largest expanse of federally managed land in the United States. It contains ConocoPhillips’ massive Willow project, which was halted in August when a federal judge rescinded his BLM approval. In June, the DOI also suspended the Coastal Plain oil and gas rental program in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

“Each new oil well in the Arctic is another step towards the extinction of the polar bear,” said Kristen Monsell, senior counsel for CBD. President Biden “should phase out oil and gas activities in the Arctic, without flouting key environmental laws to allow oil companies to search for and drill more oil in this beautiful and increasingly fragile ecosystem.”

The Peregrine project, for its part, “involves the construction of snow and ice roads and airstrips, near constant air and car traffic, and other drilling-related activities,” the CBD said. “The noise pollution caused by these activities can prevent polar bears from feeding, disrupt their movements or scare mothers and young from their dens. The project will also increase greenhouse gas emissions leading the species to extinction. “

The CBD cited recent studies projecting that polar bears in Alaska could be extinct by the middle of this century unless greenhouse gas pollution is immediately and aggressively reduced.

The policy of exploration and production on federal lands and in federal waters has sparked rhetorical and legal clashes between the industry and the Biden administration. President Biden immediately suspended sales of federal leases upon taking office, and it took a court order for the auction to resume in November.

Later that month, a DOI report on federal oil and gas leasing and licensing practices revealed “significant shortcomings” and proposed a series of “urgent fiscal and program reforms.”

Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of political, economic and regulatory affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, said the reforms “would increase the costs of US energy development without a clear roadmap for the future of federal leasing.”

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