Resource Development Council

Doyon to explore Yukon Flats for oil and gas

Doyon Limited, the regional Native corporation for Interior Alaska, is moving forward with new oil and gas exploration this winter in the Yukon Flats.

The company’s efforts will begin with the gathering of about 95 line miles of 2D seismic data on Native lands north of Stevens Village. The 200,000-acre block of land is owned by Doyon and Dinyee, the village corporation for Stevens Village. The area is 10 to 15 miles from the trans-Alaska oil pipeline corridor.

Access to the area and data gathering will be conducted via helicopter and snow machine.

New studies undertaken by the U.S. Geological Survey in recent years indicate that the Stevens Village area may hold significant promise for economic concentrations of natural gas and oil.

Norm Phillips, Jr., President and CEO of Doyon, said “our efforts in the Yukon Flats this winter are part of a multi-year plan to conduct additional exploration on a variety of natural resource projects on Doyon lands, add significant value and thereby attract other companies to conduct follow-on exploration. An important part of this plan is to work closely with local communities to assure a meaningful economic stake in any project.”

Jim Mery, Doyon’s Senior Vice President of Lands and Natural Resources, said “with any positive results this winter, we intend to generate new industry exploration interest, not just at Stevens but also on other Doyon lands near Birch Creek where earlier seismic efforts show a favorable subsurface setting for hydrocarbons.”

The Yukon Flats is a 15,000-square mile lowland area near the Yukon River and between the oil pipeline and the Canadian border. The area contains a geologic basin with substantial energy potential.

A large part of the basin is within the boundary of the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, and for a number of years Doyon had been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to negotiate a land exchange to consolidate some of the more prospective areas of the basin into Doyon ownership. But the swap was turned down by the federal government after opposition from environmental groups and some local residents.

However, Doyon said new studies have convinced it that some of its existing lands in the flats are more prospective than was earlier thought and it has now decided to proceed with exploration. Ironically, the land exchange would have resulted in a net gain of wetlands and wild lands for the refuge, as well as revenues to the federal government from oil and gas production.

An assessment of the basin’s potential indicates the possible existence of 300 million to one billion barrels of oil and up to 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The area could contain two or more Alpine-size fields. Alpine is the third largest producing field on the North Slope.

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