US-based crude oil and natural gas company ConocoPhillips has made a Final Investment Decision (FID) for the development of the Willow project in Alaska.

Willow is an oil drilling project located on the plain of the North Slope of Alaska in the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A) in Alaska.

The project includes the construction and operation of up to five drill pads for a total of 250 oil wells, along with associated infrastructure.

It includes access and infield roads, airstrips, pipelines, a gravel mine and a temporary island to facilitate module delivery via sealift barges on permafrost and between waters.

The FID approves the project and funding for construction needed to achieve the first oil.

The decision follows the US Department of the Interior’s decision in March 2023, and recent positive court orders, including this week’s denial of the request for an injunction.

ConocoPhillips chairman and CEO Ryan Lance said: “We are excited to reach this significant milestone. With this project authorization, we’ve begun winter construction and Alaskans have started to receive the benefits from responsible energy development.”

According to the Bureau of Land Management, the Willow project is estimated to deliver $8bn to $17bn in new revenue for the federal government, the state of Alaska and native communities.

Upon its completion, the project is expected to produce around 600 million barrels throughout its lifetime, reducing America’s dependence on foreign energy supplies.

The project is designed to support and coexist with subsistence activities on Alaska’s North Slope and has seen five years of stringent regulatory and environmental review.

ConocoPhillips intends to build the Willow project primarily using materials sourced in the US.

The is anticipated to create more than 2,500 construction jobs and around 300 long-term jobs.

Lance added: “We are grateful for the many supporters who advocated for Willow. Alaska Native communities and groups, especially those closest to the project on the North Slope, continually provided input that helped shape this project.

“We also appreciate the unwavering support from Alaska’s bipartisan Congressional Delegation – Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Representative Mary Peltola – the state legislature and organized labour groups.

“Our employees and the contractor community have dedicated years to designing a project that will provide reliable energy while adhering to the highest environmental standards.”