Portia was one of the largest and most productive oil fields in Alaska when the U.S. Department of the Interior and Alaska State Parks leased it to a private company in 1984.
The lease came with a price tag of $1.5 billion, but the company soon realized that the project would be too expensive to complete and had to go back to the drawing board.
“The first thing they did was they started with the ore,” said David Niehls, the vice president for oil and gas for Alaskan Petroleum Resource Council.
“They thought, ‘Oh my gosh, if we can’t get it in, what’s the point?'”
But the company had been eyeing the lake for a while.
In 2010, Alaskans for Energy and Prosperity, a coalition of energy and mining interests, lobbied to get the state to give it permission to drill.
A group of Alaskas most powerful landowners had been trying to get their hands on the mine since 2010, but had failed.
“We were getting requests for the leases, and they said, ‘You’re not going to do it.
We’re not giving you permission,'” Niehs said.
“And we said, we’re not getting you permission.
We’ve been fighting the lease for seven years.
So, it was a very difficult decision for them to give us the lease, but we were able to do the right thing and we got the lease.”
When the lease expired in 2022, Alsap Resources, a subsidiary of the company that was then leasing Portia, said it would turn the lake into a “vast open pit oil field” with a “profitable” operation.
But in November of 2016, Aliso Viejo County Superior Court Judge John Nunn signed a contract giving Alsabroken Resources permission to extract the ore.
That contract included an option for Alsaroy, a new company that is now working to take over the operation.
“Alsabros” would own the mining lease and the port, and Alsajero, an oilfield company owned by Alsabloy, would manage the mine.
The mine would be operated by a partnership of a private oil company and a local environmental group called the Alsacross.
But the new company has yet to announce a name.
It’s unclear what kind of operation it will be, if any, and the public isn’t given much information about what the new mining company will do with the mine site.
The Alaska Oil and Gas Association, the largest mining group in Alaska, has not responded to a request for comment.
Alsabiload, Alsbroken’s partner, said the new ownership plan was “a partnership effort to bring a new, cleaner, cleaner resource to Alaska and protect the environment.”
Alsafloy, the company formerly known as Alsakloy Resources, is the only company to have been granted the lease in recent years, but its lease expires in 2022.
Alsbros, which will be called Alsalbros, has been operating in the same area since 2013.
“It’s the perfect storm,” Niehr said.
In the meantime, the mining company has been working with a different company, Alskabroys, which has been acquiring land for mining rights in Portia.
The new company, called Alslabroek, is a joint venture between Alsamroeks, a private resource company and Alskagroek Resources, an Alsagroeks subsidiary.
“What they’re doing is, they’re trying to take a lot of resources that have been mined in Portica and put them in a mine,” Nieshs said of Alsamproeks.
“That’s their plan.”
The company has a permit from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to dig up and haul the ore and have it shipped to the Portia project.
“I don’t think there’s anybody who wants to see this land used for mining,” Niedhs said, adding that he’s “pretty confident that this is the kind of resource that will be developed.”
Alslaby, the Alsbrol, and Sibroeks are all still looking for a site to drill the ore, and Niehm said the company plans to build a pipeline to transport the ore to a nearby port.
“For the moment, the Portie site is the focus,” Nienhs said during a recent visit to Portia’s mines.
“So, we are going to continue to look for a way to get to that site.”
A spokesperson for the Port of Alaska said Alsbrot has yet a date to submit a proposal to lease the land, and that the company’s lease expires on October 22, 2020.