U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today applauded the joint-venture agreement between Shell Oil and Arctic Inupiat Offshore (AIO) -- a new company formed by Arctic Slope Regional Corporation with several North Slope native village corporations -- which gives native-owned AIO the option to acquire a working interest in Chukchi Sea oil and gas development.
"Shell's decision to invest in the future of the region and its people should be applauded," Murkowski said. "This announcement ensures that the people of the North Slope Borough share directly in the oil and gas bounty off of their coast. It also gives locals a say in what happens near their communities. I think that's a wise decision on Shell's part."
Arctic Inupiat Offshore includes the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC), the Atqasuk Corporation, Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation, Nunamiut Corporation, Olgoonik Corporation, Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation, and Tikigaq Corporation.
ASRC is the native corporations for the eight Inupiat Eskimo communities of the Arctic Slope. The six village corporations involved in the deal represent the communities of Atqasuk, Kaktovik, Anaktuvuk Pass, Wainwright, Barrow, and Point Hope, respectively.
Shell has invested nearly $6 billion in leases and exploration in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off Alaska's northern coast. The company is preparing to continue drilling exploratory wells in the Chukchi next summer.
The Arctic holds 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil reserves, and 30 percent of undiscovered natural gas deposits, so the potential for Alaska is immense. Arctic waters off Alaska's northern coast contain an estimated 30 billion barrels of oil and 221 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the federal government.