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US unveils plan to manage huge Alaskan oil reserve

Published on Dec 20, 2012 11:47 AM

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US federal government on Wednesday announced a plan to manage energy drilling on part of Alaska's North Slope, with the 9 million hectare National Petroleum Reserve (NPR) to be divided between areas available for oil and gas leases and those that are protected from development.

The announcement by US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar followed the completion of an environmental impact study, which recommended development of areas that contain about 72 per cent of the estimated "economically recoverable" oil in the reserve.

The move drew criticism from Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who said the Obama administration had not gone far enough to open up oil and natural gas resources in the area.

Mr Salazar said the plan as conceived would allow for the potential construction of pipelines carrying oil or gas from operations in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas through the NPR region, also known as the Western Arctic Reserve.

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