Seismic tests for geological formations that could contain oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska could begin in December under a plan proposed by the federal Bureau of Land Management posted online Friday.
The Marsh Creek East Seismic Exploration project – to be conducted by the Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation – intends to survey 487.8 square miles with equipment that will produce three-dimensional images of the subsurface.
”Seismic exploration generates acoustic waves that are picked up by sensors as the waves bounce off subsurface formations,” the Bureau of Land Management said on its website. ”From this information, images can be created that show subsurface topography and formations including those areas of potential hydrocarbons.”
The project would begin in early December by using forward-looking infrared radar – or FLIR – to search for polar bear dens. A second survey for bear dens would occur in January followed by the seismic tests, which would not occur until average snow depths reach 9 inches.
Advance crews ”would conduct surveys to substantiate snow depths to verify adequate snow cover to protect the tundra from seismic operations and camp moves throughout the Program Area,” the BLM says.
The proposal of drilling in ANWR has been disputed since 1977, when a geologist for British Petroleum testified before Congress about the enormous potential of recoverable oil along the north coast of Alaska.
The then-Republican-controlled Congress authorized the drilling when it passed the ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.