The Governor of Alaska (Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy) has sent a letter to the US Department of Energy, proposing it builds a new storage site at Adak Island, a former Alaskan naval base.

The move would significantly extend the nation’s emergency supply of crude oil, and “reduce the risk of supply disruptions for America’s Asian allies and West Coast markets”, Dunleavy said in the letter.

He added that The Energy Department’s Office of Strategic Petroleum Reserves is studying locations for future storage sites, and that this creates what he describes as an “excellent opportunity” to consider sites in the western US, in states such as Alaska. 

He said the proposed Adak project would cut maritime delivery times to the West Coast and the country’s strategic Asian partners “from weeks to days”.

Adak Island is 1,200 miles from the Alaskan mainland, making it the nation’s westernmost community. The former Adak Naval Air Facility closed in 1997.

David Ott, a former manager for Royal Dutch Shell PLC in Alaska, said he has worked with Dunleavy’s economic development team on the proposal, for which he projected a cost of £1.9 billion. This would include upgrades to Adak’s former facilities, including its port and airport. He said the depot could begin by holding 100 tanks storing 100 million barrels of oil.

He continued by suggesting the energy department would lease the facilities as a long-term anchor tenant from the Aleut Corp., the regional Native corporation that owns the site.

The depot would diversify the locations of the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which currently includes 635 million barrels of oil, which are held in four underground salt caverns in Louisiana and Texas. The reserve holds enough oil to meet the national demand for a month and can only be released by a presidential order.

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6th February 2020