OIL AND GAS ALERT: About Alaska – Indigenous Influence

    1 December 2007
    No oil and gas company would think of embarking on exploration and production (E&P) operations in a foreign country without retaining a well-connected representative to give advice on local laws and customs and represent the company to local stakeholders. Yet, a surprising number of oil and gas companies, both majors and independents, commence operations in Alaska without considering the power and effect that the Alaskan indigenous groups have over most hydrocarbon development projects in that state. Even though most hydrocarbon prospects are on state- or federally-owned lands or waters, various indigenous groups, including Alaska Native Corporations, federally recognized Tribes, and local governments whose elected officials are, in many cases, Alaska Natives, have powerful voices in and, in some cases, direct jurisdiction over, many aspects of an E&P project, including permitting, workforce availability, logistical support, and legislation at the local, state, and federal levels. Understanding the who, what, and why of the several indigenous groups likely to be affected by a project, and having a representative who has a personal connection with the leaders of those groups, are critical ingredients of a successful E&P project in Alaska.

    If your company is thinking about or is already involved in a hydrocarbon project in Alaska but has not engaged counsel to advise and represent your project to the affected Alaska Native organizations, Patton Boggs can assist you. Our lawyers in Alaska have decades of experience representing and working with Alaska Native Corporations, Tribes, and other groups and have personal ties to many of the Alaska Native leaders in every part of the State."