Student Projects

Natural Resource Development

Matthew C. Mai



Within the decade, U.S. offshore oil and gas (O&G) activity will locate and expand in, and around the small, traditionally subsistence-based Iñupiat villages of Alaska’s North Slope Borough. This new development has the potential for significant negative impacts on the unique, vulnerable communities and existing natural environments. Alternatively, or at the same time, offshore oil and gas development could provide unprecedented opportunity for coastal Arctic communities to plan for economic impacts that support sustainable development.

This report explores that potential in the City of Wainwright, Alaska – a traditional Iñupiat community of about 550 people, and the likely location for offshore development support facilities and receiving point for offshore-to-shore O&G regional transportation pipelines. It identifies new planning concepts to reduce conflicts between O&G development and community sustainability by identifying ways that a community can leverage the incoming development activity to receive long-lasting benefits. To characterize and assess development opportunities, the study defines, compares, and evaluates four possible development trends for Wainwright under conditions of O&G development and select climate change impacts.