Learn more about Exploration in Yukon Flats
- Doyon has long been interested in oil and gas potential in the region–beginning when we first selected our lands.
- In the 1970s, Doyon signed a series of land selection coordination agreements with villages in the region, which resulted in more lands selected in the Yukon Flats than Doyon and our sister village corporations would have received.
- Doyon and Hilcorp Alaska (Hilcorp) signed an agreement in early 2019 for oil and gas exploration on Doyon lands, including 1.6 million acres of land near Birch Creek, Beaver, Fort Yukon, and Stevens Village.
When Doyon was established, early leaders and village leaders focused on selecting lands for local and traditional uses, historical-cultural sites, and economic potential through natural resource development that could provide employment, training, and contracting for villages and Doyon. This collaborative land selection strategy focused on opportunities for forestry, gravel, oil and gas, and minerals. The land selections are distributed throughout the region and Doyon has pursued projects consistently to gain more knowledge and data to achieve the successful balance of protecting and enhancing lands to provide economic and social benefits to its shareholders.
Early leaders of Doyon, including Doyon’s first president John Sackett, in partnership with Fort Yukon, Stevens Village, and Beaver leaders focused on allocating an additional 300,000 plus acres within the Yukon Flats region for oil and gas potential that had been identified early in the 1970s. Land agreements were signed to focus on providing this benefit and to accommodate for more local land use for a project. The specific land type in this allocation was lands that could have been equally distributed to all Doyon villages throughout the Interior, so the partnership was an integral collaborative effort.
Hilcorp and Doyon look forward to pursuing additional information in the area, building on 46 years of history established through land coordination agreements, signed in 1974 with Doyon’s first president John Sackett and the village corporations of Beaver, Birch Creek, Circle, Chalkyitsik, and Fort Yukon.
Hilcorp and Doyon continue to meet with village councils and corporations and provide updates to Doyon shareholders, including:
- Community meetings to share more information and answer questions
- Updates at Tanana Chiefs Conference and Subregional meetings
- Direct phone calls and email updates to village councils and corporations
- Informational handouts and mailers to provide updates on each project phase
- A project website at Doyon, Limited
- Regular updates in the Doyon Shareholder Newsletter
COVID-19 has prevented Doyon from the in-person engagements we usually host on Lands projects. As restrictions are lifted, we will continue with online engagement and return to in-person meetings with community members and shareholders to provide updates on the project.
In 2019, Doyon and Hilcorp Alaska (Hilcorp) signed an agreement for exploration on 1.6 million acres of Doyon and village land in the Yukon Flats subregion. Throughout all phases of the project, Hilcorp and Doyon continue to meet with village councils and corporations and provide updates to Doyon shareholders.
For the latest updates on the project, visit our News and Resources page.
PHASE 1: Airborne Gravity Surveys and Data Analysis (2020-2021)
Hilcorp conducted an airborne survey of Doyon surface and subsurface lands in summer 2020 and analyzed the information over the winter months. As shown in the diagram to the right, the aerial survey was conducted by flying a grid with a fixed-wing aircraft to collect data. The new data was integrated with seismic data from earlier surveys and other studies to better map the subsurface geology.
Phase 1 did not have any ground activity and had no land impacts.
PHASE 2: Shallow Stratigraphic Test Program (2021)
Hilcorp will be conducting subsurface (e.g., soil, sediment, gravel, and rock layers) sampling at approximately 15 locations mostly in the vicinity of the village of Birch Creek.
This 2021 soil analysis program will help Hilcorp understand more about the geology of the area. Hilcorp will conduct analysis using shallow stratigraphic tests which do not go deeper than 250 feet below the surface to capture subsurface material for analysis.
The test program will be based out of the village of Birch Creek, and each site will take 2-3 days of work. Helicopters will transport equipment and personnel, mitigating impacts to the surface. A site review was conducted in mid-May, mobilization will occur in mid-June, and sampling at the test locations will be completed in July. Demobilization will occur in early August.
- Access to each site will be via helicopter from a base of operation at Birch Creek.
- Drilling equipment and all supplies will be flown in and moved from site to site by helicopter.
- The boreholes will be drilled about the same depth as typical water well – approximately 250 feet below the surface.
- The drilling will be conducted with a small rig placed on cribbing at the drill site. Each borehole will take 2 to 3 days to complete.
- The boreholes will be plugged and abandoned with any cuttings created from drilling and bentonite to seal the borehole. Any disturbed tundra will be placed back to its original location.
- Surface impacts will be mitigated by using helicopters for transporting equipment, personnel, and materials (e.g., surface cribbing).
- Required Federal and State permits have been obtained for each phase of the program.
- A detailed analysis to identify and avoid known cultural sites or areas with the potential for cultural resources has been conducted.
- Aerial reviews of all drill sites for active or dormant nesting and other environmental sensitivities prior to any on the groundwork has been completed. Some sites were relocated as a result of these reviews.
- All operations will follow best management practices and documentation to verify compliance with all permit conditions.
- All sites have located a minimum of 500 ft from any stream or river.
Project Benefits and Impacts
Short Term Impacts
- No environmental impacts from stratigraphic tests. The small footprint of rigs placed on cribbing to avoid surface disturbance, 4-inch borehole that is backfilled upon completion.
Long Term Impacts
- Additional phases of the exploration project depend on a number of factors, including analysis of the aerial survey data and stratigraphic test results.
Economic Benefits & Job Opportunities
- Discovery and development would provide year-round employment opportunities.
- Contractors are incentivized to recruit and hire locally for all phases of the project.
- Financial benefits in-region through local employment and contracting benefitting education, health, and community needs.
- Potential consideration for a borough to support community infrastructure.
- May 2021:Summer 2021 Program Update – Hilcorp will be conducting soil sampling at approximately 15 locations mostly in the vicinity of the village of Birch Creek. Read more.
- March 2021:During the summer of 2020, Hilcorp conducted an airborne gravity and magnetic survey over the Yukon Flats region as the initial phase of their exploration program. The next step is to further evaluate the geology via a shallow stratigraphic borehole program beginning in May 2021. Read more.
- January 2021:Doyon and Hilcorp Alaska (Hilcorp) signed an agreement in early 2019 for oil and gas exploration on Doyon lands, including 1.6 million acres of land near Birch Creek, Beaver, Fort Yukon, and Stevens Village. Read more.
- June 2020:A passive aerial gravity survey of Yukon Flats was completed in early June 2020. It will take some time for Hilcorp Alaska to analyze the data. The next phase of the project includes the opportunity to continue with additional activities, such as on-the-ground work.
- May 9, 2020:On May 9, Hilcorp, under an agreement with Doyon, Limited, began conducting its initial airborne survey in the Yukon Flats subregion. The survey is expected to take 20 to 30 days in total to complete; analyzing the survey results is expected to take an additional six to eight weeks minimum. Learn more.
- April 9, 2020:The aerial survey will take early May 2020. Uqaqti Consulting, Hilcorp, and Doyon staff are meeting with the village corporations and village councils to share more information on the survey. This is a passive survey that does not emit energy so there is no impact on animals, land, or people. Data from the survey will be analyzed until the fall time period. Please contact Uqaqti Consulting or Doyon for more information. Continue to visit this website for updates on the project. Learn more.
Information Handout, March 2021: Handout on the shallow stratigraphic test program
Information Handout, April 2020: Handout on exploration project with Hilcorp
Aerial Survey, April 2020: Information about the aerial survey
Press Release, December 2019: Doyon announces agreement with Hilcorp
Fact Sheet: Doyon and Hilcorp agreement fact sheet
Fact Sheet: Hilcorp Alaska fact sheet
Hilcorp Website: Website for Hilcorp Alaska
If you have questions about the project or want to learn more, contact us directly:
Lands and Natural Resources Department
907-459-2030 or 844-428-2245 (toll free)
Jamie Marunde, VP Lands