With three weeks left in Alaska’s construction season, ConocoPhillips will be allowed to move forward with construction of its controversial Willow oil project in the US, including building roads and a gravel mine.
A federal judge denied a motion to block construction of ConocoPhillips’ Willow oil project in Alaska while multiple lawsuits are heard against the project.
“With this decision from the federal district court, we are able to immediately begin construction activities,” a ConocoPhillips spokesperson told Upstream.
“We appreciate the support from the intervening parties and others who recognise that Willow will provide meaningful opportunities for Alaska Native communities and the State of Alaska, and domestic energy for America.
“Construction activities include immediately beginning gravel site development and construction of the gravel road and the boat launch for local subsistence users.”
Two lawsuits have been brought against the project, saying the US government did not do its due diligence in considering other, cleaner options than the project that was proposed.
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The government ultimately approved a reduced version of the project, which would still produce 600 million barrels of oil over 30 years.
Although production is not expected for many years, a request for a preliminary injunction was filed by Alaskan environmental groups to stop all construction while the cases are being heard.
Climate group Earthjustice said blasting for the gravel mine will cause irreparable harm to the habitat.
“Although the White House and Department of Interior were not persuaded to stop Willow despite the advocacy of more than 5 million individuals, we are now using the power of the law to restore some balance. While this particular round of the legal challenge did not produce the outcome we had hoped for, our court battle continues,” said Erik Grafe, deputy managing attorney in Earthjustice’s Alaska Regional Office.
“We will do everything within our power to protect the climate, wildlife and people from this dangerous carbon bomb.
“Climate scientists have warned that we have less than seven years to get it right on climate change, and we cannot afford to lock in three decades of oil drilling that will only serve to open the door to more fossil-fuel extraction,” Grafe added.