What Oil Drilling Looks Like in the Arctic Refuge, 30 Years Later

"These satellite images of a small part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge show the site of what, so far, is the only oil well ever drilled in the refuge, an exploratory well known as KIC-1 that was completed in the mid-1980s. The well was plugged and abandoned, and the drilling equipment and a special timber pad it sat on have long since been removed.

But as these infrared images show, even after three decades, the well’s footprint — about 600 feet long on its longest side — is easily distinguishable from the undisturbed tundra around it.

The arctic refuge is a vast region of tundra: mosses, sedges and shrubs underlain by permafrost. But the area is also believed to contain large petroleum reserves. Since the current boundaries of the refuge were established by an act of Congress in 1980, there has been a debate over whether oil and gas exploration should be allowed in a portion of the area, 1.5 million acres on the coastal plain. The issue has been revived in recent months, and through the budget-making process Republicans in Congress are perhaps closer than ever to opening the area to drilling."

Henry Fountain reports for the New York Times December 15, 2017.

Source: NY Times, 12/18/2017