Chair Grijalva, Reps. Lowenthal and Porter Send Letter to ConocoPhillips About Ongoing Gas Leak, Proposed Willow Project in Alaska

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee Chair Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Katie Porter (D-Calif.) today sent a letter to ConocoPhillips requesting more information about the ongoing gas leak at the Alpine Oil Field on Alaska’s North Slope. The lawmakers are also seeking information about whether the month-long leak has implications for the company’s proposed Willow project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

The full letter is available at https://bit.ly/3OOfbtU

In the letter sent today, the lawmakers point out that the now month-old leak—which released more than 7.2 million cubic feet of natural gas into the atmosphere—was likely the result of a “well that was not fully cemented.” ConocoPhillips conducted emergency seismic surveys after the leak began and were able to detect the issue. The company has indicated that the leak will continue to release trace amounts of gas over time.

As proposed, ConocoPhillips’ massive 30-year Willow project will include oil and gas drilling in up to 250 wells, multiple pipelines, a central processing plant, an airport, and a gravel mine in close proximity to ecologically fragile habitats, including the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area. The Trump administration rushed the Willow project through the public comment process in the spring of 2020, during the height of the pandemic, effectively ignoring opposition from Alaska Native communities and conservation groups.

Last August, a federal court in Alaska reversed the Willow project’s approval after determining that the Trump administration failed to consider the project’s impacts on greenhouse gas pollution. The Biden administration is conducting a more comprehensive review of the impacts that the project will have on Indigenous communities, the environment, and climate change.


Given the size of the Willow project and the number of proposed wells, the lawmakers wrote that the ongoing leak in the Alpine Oil Field “raises a number of troubling questions” about ConocoPhillips’ oversight of its existing oil and gas operations in the region and the Willow project. 

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