Can Arctic Energy Development and Conservation Coexist?

May 12, 2017 in Blog, Featured

To state an obvious fact, it is in the energy industry’s best interest to care for and maintain the lands on which they operate. Why?  This care allows them to continue their operations and ensure that the communities in which they work allow their operations to flourish.

This week, one North Slope company showed us just how effective industry-conservation partnerships can be. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) joined forces with Hilcorp Alaska to help protect a mother polar bear and her cub, denning in close quarters to an active oil production facility in Prudhoe Bay.

Beth Sharp, Hilcorp’s wildlife specialist and other members of the Hilcorp team noticed a den entrance near the roadway leading to the Endicott Island production facility. They immediately reached out to the USFWS’ Polar Bears International team, along with Brigham Young University to ensure proper actions were taken to protect the female polar bear and her cub. Hilcorp agreed to temporarily shut down the Endicott causeway until the mother polar bear and her cub were ready to emerge from their den. Sharp described the situation saying:

“I’ve worked in the area for several years, and while you prepare and plan for polar bears in the area, this was the first time we had encountered a situation like this. It’s great that we were able to have a positive result in this situation. Seeing a healthy mom and cub emerge is what we were all working toward.”

Endicott Causeway closed to protect the polar bear den.

The cub and its mother emerged from their den on March 18th and remained in the area for two weeks before setting off to begin seal hunting. Hilcorp waited until they received approval from USFWS before restarting their operations and opening up the roadway. Christopher Putnam, a biologist with USFWS praised the joint effort and claimed that:

“Good planning and collaboration helped turn this into a great success story”

Mother and her new cub exploring their surroundings

This environmental protection effort is just one small example of the many efforts the oil and gas industry makes to preserve and protect the areas where they work.