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CUMULATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF OTE AND GAS AC~VT ~ TES ON ALASKAS NORTH SLOPE Committee on Cumulative Environmental Effects of Oil and Gas Activities on Alaska's North Slope Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology Polar Research Boa rcl Division on Earth ancl Life Stuclies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.etiu
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS · 500 Fifth Street, N.W. · Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the com- mittee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This project was supported by Contract No. X-82827701 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations ex- pressed in this publication are those of the authoress and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organiza- tions or agencies that provided support for this project. International Standard Book Number 0-309-08737-6 (Book) International Standard Book Number 0-309-50625-5 (PDF) Library of Congress Control Number 2003107939 Cover design by Van Nguyen, National Research Council. The bowhead whale was carved by the late Alaska Native artist Harry Koozaata, Sr., probably in the 1970s. The drilling rig is in the Kuparak oil field. Additional copies of this report are available from: The National Academies Press 500 Fifth Street, NW Box 285 Washington, DC 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area) http://www.nap.edu Copyright 2003 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Stienre, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Acad- emy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering pro- grams aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Acad- emy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council www.national-academies.org . . .
COMMITTEE ON CUMULATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF OIL AND GAS ACTIVITIES ON ALASKA'S NORTH SLOPE GORDON ORIANS, (Chair), University of Washington, Seattle, Washington THOMAS ALBERT, North Slope Borough (retired), Laurel, Maryland GARDNER BROWN, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington RAYMOND CAMERON, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska PATRICIA COCHRAN, Alaska Native Science Commission, Anchorage, Alaska S. CRAIG GERLACH, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska ROBERT GRAMLING, University of Louisiana, Lafayette, Louisiana GEORGE GRYC, u.s. Geological Survey (Emeritus), Menlo Park, California DAVID MITE, Geological Consultant, Anchorage, Alaska MAHLON KENNICUTT II, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas ARTHUR LACHENBRUCH, u.s. Geological Survey (Emeritus), Menlo Park, California LLOYD LOWRY, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska LAWRENCE MOULTON, MJM Research, Lopez Island, Washington CHRIS PIELOU, Dalhousie University (retired), Comox, British Columbia, Canada JAMES SEDINGER, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada K. TUNE LINDSTEDT SIVA, ENSR Consulting and Engineering, Banning, California LISA SPEER, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York, New York DONALD (SKIP) WALKER, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska Stay David it. Policansky, Project Director Chris Elfring, Polar Research Board Director Suzanne van Drunick, Staff Officer Meg Walsh, Postdoctoral Research Associate Kate Kelly, Editor Leah Probst, Research Assistant Mirsada Karalic-Loncarevic, Research Assistant Jessica Brock, Senior Project Assistant Dominic Brose, Project Assistant v
BOARD ON ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES AND TOXICOLOGY Members GORDON ORIANS (Chair), University of Washington, Seattle, Washington JOHN DouLL (Vice Chair), University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas DAVID ALLEN, University of Texas, Austin, Texas THOMAS BURKE, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland JUDITH CHOW, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada CHRISTOPHER B. FIELD, Carnegie Institute of Washington, Stanford, California WILLIAM GLAZE, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina SHERR} GOODMAN, Center for Naval Analyses Corporation, Alexandria, Virginia DANIEL s. GREENBAUM, Health Effects Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts ROGENE HENDERSON, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, Albuquerque, New Mexico CAROL HENRY, American Chemistry Council, Arlington, Virginia ROBERT HUGGETT, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan BARRY L. JOHNSON, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia JAMES H. JOHNSON Howard University, Washington, D.C. JAMES A. MACMAHON, Utah State University, Logan, Utah PATRICK v. O,BRIEN, Chevron Research and Technology, Richmond, California DOROTHY PATTON, Washington, D.C. ANN POWERS, Pace University School of Law, White Plains, New York LOUISE M. RYAN, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts JONATHAN SAMET, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland KIRK SMITH, University of California, Berkeley, California LISA SPEER, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York, New York G. DAVID TILMAN, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota CHRIS G. WHIPPLE, Environ, Inc., Emeryville, California LAUREN ZEISE, California Environmental Protection Agency, Oakland, California Senior Staff James,}. Reisa, Director David '}. Policansky, Associate Director and Senior Program Director for Applied Ecology Raymond A. Wassel, Senior Program Director for Environmental Sciences and Engineering Kulbir Bakshi, Program Director for the Committee on Toxicology Roberta M. Wedge, Program Director for Risk Analysis Eileen N. Abt, Senior Staff Officer K. John Holmes, Senior Staff Officer Ellen K. Mantus, Senior Staff Officer Susan N. ,1. Martel, Senior Staff Officer Suzanne van Drunick, Senior Staff Officer Ruth E. Crossgrove, Managing Editor vim
POLAR RESEARCH BOARD Members ROBIN BELL (Chair), Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, New York MARY ALBERT, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, New Hamp- shire RICHARD ALLEY, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania AKHIE DATTA-GUPTA, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas GEORGE DENTON, University of Maine, Orono, Maine HENRY P. HUNTINGTON, Huntington Consulting, Eagle River, Alaska DAVID KARL, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii AMANDA LYNCH, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado W. BERRY LYONS, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio ROBIE MACDONALD, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Sidney, British Columbia, Canada MILES MCPHEE, McPhee Research Company, Naches, Washington CAROEE L. SEYFRIT, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia Staff Chris Elfring, Director Sheldon Drobot, Staff Officer Ann Carlisle, Senior Project Assistant . . vat
Preface Since production began on Alaska's North Slope in the early 1970s, about 14 billion barrels of oil have been ex- tracted from underground deposits and sent to markets else- where. As much as 20 billion additional barrels of oil might be extracted from the area. In addition, the region has huge reserves of natural gas and coal. Therefore, if market condi- tions remain favorable, exploration and extraction are likely to continue on the North Slope and to expand into areas that have until now been uninfluenced by industrial activity. The residents of Alaska and throughout the United States have benefited from oil and gas production on the North Slope, but, as with all industrial developments, these activities have brought with them social and environmental costs. Although research has been carried out on the North Slope during the past several decades to understand the ef- fects of oil and gas exploration, development, and produc- tion, an integrated, comprehensive assessment of those ef- fects has not been attempted. Understanding the nature, extent, and causes of both the benefits and costs is an essen- tial component of effective, long-term decision-making about resource management on the North Slope. To rectify this gap in knowledge, the United States Con- gress asked the National Research Council to review infor- mation about oil and gas activities on Alaska's North Slope and to assess their known and probable future cumulative effects on the physical, biological, and human environment. The NRC established a committee whose 18 members had expertise in a wide range of disciplines, including geology, hydrology, physics of permafrost, biology, sociology, an- thropology, and economics. In making its assessments, the committee relied on its collective expertise, extensive litera- ture review, information gathered during public meetings held in various places in Alaska, and written materials sup- plied by many individuals and organizations. The task undertaken by the committee was difficult. The area of concern from the crest of the Brooks Range to the Arctic Ocean and from the Canadian border on the east to Six the Chukchi Sea on the west is about the size of Minne- sota. It includes the continental shelf and coastal waters, flat coastal tundra, undulating foothills, rivers, lakes, and moun- tain slopes. Industrial activity has affected primarily the area between the Canning River and the eastern part of the Na- tional Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, but more of the North Slope could be influenced by future developments. During the several decades over which industrial activities expanded on the North Slope, technological advances dramatically changed how the industry operated and how it influenced the North Slope environment. There is every reason to believe that technical innovations will continue in the future, adding to the difficulty of making projections of future cumulative effects. In addition, the climate of the North Slope has warmed considerably during the past several decades, and the rate of warming is likely to accelerate in the future. Cli- mate change is likely to influence nearly all aspects of indus- trial activity in the area and the effect of those activities on the environment. Because of the complexity of its task, the committee met eight times. Members visited the North Slope during both winter and summer conditions. Its sessions sometimes lasted as long as a week, during which there were extensive in-depth discussions of the available data and their interpre- tation. Considerable work was carried out between meetings by both committee members and NRC staff. Despite the highly varied professional backgrounds, knowledge, and per- ceptions of the committee members, candor, mutual respect, and collegiality dominated the committee's proceedings. This spirit of cooperation made this consensus report possible. The committee was ably assisted by staff of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology (BEST) and the Polar Research Board (PRB), the two NRC boards under whose auspices the study was carried out. The efforts and experience of David Policansky (BEST) and Chris Elfring (PRB) assisted the committee in numerous ways and helped
Xkeep us on track. James Reisa (BEST) provided his usual thoughtful advice. Logistical, informational, and other in- valuable support was provided by BEST staff members, es- pecially Leah Probst, Jessica Brock, Dominic Brose, Marga- ret Walsh, and Suzanne van Drunick. Walter Gove provided much useful information to the committee, as did the many people who made presentations to the committee and helped us on our visits (please see Appendix B for list of partici- pants in our meetings). Many people made our task possible by providing infor- mation, hospitality, and logistic support. We thank the gov- ernments and people of Arctic Village, Barrow, Kaktovik, and Nuiqsut for their kindness, as well as members of the North Slope Borough. We thank representatives of the oil industry for sharing information and logistic support, in par- ticular Joseph Hegna of Phillips Petroleum, and Steve Tay- lor of BP. Theodore (Ted) Rockwell, Lisa Morales, and Tracie-Lynn Nadeau of EPA provided advice, encourage- ment, and information to the committee while serving as the sponsoring agency's technical representatives. We also thank the other state and federal agencies and members of the pub- lic who provided us with information, guidance, and assis- tance. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individu- als chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical exper- tise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the delibera- tive process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Garry D. Brewer, Yale University Ingrid C. Burke, Colorado State University Brian Davies, BP Exploration-Alaska (retired) William L. Fisher, University of Texas Richard Glenn, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation Mike Joyce, ARCO Alaska (retired) John McDonagh, Alaska Office of the Oil and Gas Coordinator (retired) Edna McLean, Ilisagvik College Pamela A. Miller, Arctic Connections Don Russell, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada PREFACE Stan Senner, Alaska Audubon John J. Stegeman, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Arlon R. Tussing, Institute of the North Gunter Weller, University of Alaska Fairbanks William J. Wilson, LGL Alaska Research Associates, Inc. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by John Bailar, Uni- versity of Chicago (emeritus) (review monitor) and Wilford Gardner, University of California, Berkeley (emeritus) (re- view coordinator). Appointed by the NRC, they were respon- sible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this re- port rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. Important though it is to identify and assess the nature of cumulative effects and their causes, the committee recog- nizes that this knowledge, by itself, cannot specify public policy. Nonetheless, without such analyses, decision-mak- ers lack a background against which to evaluate the asser- tions of different groups that have specific benefits to gain from policies or who are likely to bear the brunt of costs. The committee has identified the most important cumulative ef- fects of oil and gas development on the North Slope and has attempted to show why they have happened. The committee has also concluded that some effects have been much less important than they are widely believed to be. Therefore, this report should help focus future discussions on the major cumulative effects of industrial development on the North Slope. It should also direct attention to the inevitable tradeoffs that must be balanced when choosing future man- agement options and the rules and regulations under which they will be carried out. If this report serves that purpose, we will all consider ourselves suitably rewarded for our efforts. Gordon H. Orians Chair, Committee on Cumulative Environmental Effects of Oil and Gas Activities on Alaska's North Slope
Contents Summary The Present Study, 1 Understanding and Assessing Cumulative Environmental Effects, 2 Overview of the North Slope Environment, 2 Findings, 5 Filling Knowledge Gaps, 8 The Essential Trade-off, 10 1 Introduction The Present Study, 13 Understanding and Assessing Cumulative Environmental Effects, 13 Sources of Knowledge, 16 Report Organization, 18 The Human Environment Subsistence, 20 North Slope Human Cultures in the Oil Era, 22 The Alaska North Slope Environment Terrestrial Environment, 24 Freshwater Environments, 26 Marine Environments, 26 Biota, 28 Aquatic Ecosystems, 30 4 History of Oil And Gas Activities Anatomy and Operation of North Slope Oil Fields, 35 Current Structure of the North Slope Industry, 42 North Slope Oil-Field Infrastructure, 42 Recent Technology Developments, 46 How Oil-Field Activities Can Affect the Environment, 47 Future Oil and Gas Activities Plausible Scenario, 51 Projections of Direct Effects to the Year 2025: Infrastructure Analysis, 56 Climate Change and Other Influences on Future Oil and Gas Development, 56 Other Mineral Resources, 60 x~ 12 19 24 32 51
. . xt! CONTENTS 6 Effects on the Physical Environment Permafrost, 64 Subsurface Environment: Possible Effects of the Withdrawal and Injection of Fluids and Other Materials, 69 Escape of Injected Waste Fluids in the Marine Environment, 72 Air Quality, 73 Freshwater Environment, 73 Marine Environment, 74 Effects on Vegetation Spills and Contaminants, 76 Roads and Gravel Pads, 77 Seismic Exploration, 81 Air Quality, 88 Areas of Special Importance, 88 Facility Removal, Rehabilitation and Restoration of Gravel-Covered Areas, 90 Findings, 95 Recommendations, 96 8 Effects on Animals Population Dynamics, 98 Marine Mammals, 99 Caribou, 106 Muskoxen, 117 Arctic Foxes, 117 Grizzly Bears, 117 Birds, 118 Fish, 123 Other Marine Organisms, 130 Effects on the Human Environment Opportunity and Threat, 133 Effects of Development, 136 Adaptation Effects, 147 Findings, 148 Recommendations, 149 10 Filling Knowledge Gaps Need for Comprehensive Planning, 150 Scientific Information Needs, 151 11 Major Effects and Their Accumulation Social Changes in North Slope Communities, 156 Damage to Tundra from Off-Road Travel, 157 Roads, 157 Effects on Animal Populations, 157 Oil Spills, 158 Abandoned Infrastructure and Unrestored Landscapes, 158 Response of North Slope Cultures to Declining Revenues, 158 Trade-Offs Are Inevitable, 159 64 76 98 132 150 155
CONTENTS . . . Xti! Appendixes A Acknowledgements B Abbreviations and Acronyms Petroleum Exploration and Development Petroleum Exploration and Development on the North Slope of Alaska, 167 Industry Oil and Gas Exploration on the North Slope of Alaska and the Adjacent Beaufort Sea, 172 D Oil-Field Technology and the Environment Technology in Exploration, 183 Drilling and Completion Technologies, 185 Production Technologies, 187 E Aeromap Analyses and Data F Oil Spills Oil Spills, 208 Fate of Oil Likely To Be Spilled on the North Slope, 220 Behavior of Oil in the Beaufort Sea, 220 Scenarios of Oil Spills, 224 G Saline Spills Introduction, 228 Spill Data, 228 Effects of Saline Water Spills, 230 H Traditional Knowledge Why Share? 232 How to Share? 233 I Legal Framework for Activities on State Lands on the North Slope J A Method of Addressing Economic Irreversibility All or None? 242 Two Scenarios, 243 K Biosketches of the Committee's Members Committee on Cumulative Environmental Effects of Oil and Gas Activities on Alaska's North Slope, 246 References 163 165 167 183 190 208 228 232 234 242 246 251
CUMULATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF OTE AND GAS ACTIVITIES ON ALASKA S NORTH SLOPE Whalers return from successful hunt. Barrow, September 1992. Photograph by David Policansky.