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Impacts of petroleum development in the Arctic

January 1, 1989

In their article “Cumulative impacts of oil fields on northern Alaskan landscapes.” D. A. Walter et al. (1) document some direct and indirect impacts of petroleum development in the Arctic on selected portions of the Prudhoe Bay Oil field. While most of the kinds of impacts they discuss are valid points to consider in designing an arctic oil field, the magnitude of what they describe is not representative of the Prudhoe Bay field, in general, or of newer oil fields, such as Kuparuk to the west of Prudhoe. It is even less applicable in areas of higher topographic relief, such as the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Any development will cause an impact to the land. In the Arctic, as noted by Walker et al., gravel roads and pads have been built that are thick enough to support facilities while the thermal integrity of the underlying permafrost is maintained. Decision-makers must evaluate whether or not the gains of development are worth the impacts incurred. Accurate assessment of both direct and indirect impacts is essential.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1989
Title Impacts of petroleum development in the Arctic
DOI 10.1126/science.245.4919.764
Authors Robertson S.B.
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science
Index ID 70184724
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center