Judge rules ConocoPhillips can keep Willow oil well data confidential

In a win for ConocoPhillips, a federal judge has allowed the company to keep oil well data from its large Willow discovery from competitors.

ConocoPhillips sued in May 2022 to prevent the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from releasing data from five National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska exploration wells drilled in 2018. The company argued that because Willow is located in the NPR-A, it is subject to federal law, which does not require well data to be made public during the duration of a lease. Alaska state law requires the release of well data after two years.

The Willow oil project has drawn national attention, especially in the lead-up to the Interior Department earlier this year greenlighting development on the massive and controversial discovery.

In March, U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason wrote that federal disclosure rules preempt state law and ConocoPhillips can keep Willow oil well data private. Gleason noted that ConocoPhillips provided well data to the state regulatory agency, which is required for conservation and oversight.

In her earlier 34-page decision, she pointed to the history of the reserve and said that the federal incentives to promote drilling there included keeping well data secret to protect a company’s competitive advantage.

Gleason finalized the March decision in a June 26 judgment.

ConocoPhillips spokeswoman Rebecca Boys said in a statement that the company is “pleased with the court’s decision that our proprietary well data obtained on federal lands in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska are entitled to confidential treatment.”


The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission referred questions about the decision to the Alaska Department of Law. Spokeswoman Patty Sullivan said the department “is evaluating its next steps with regard to any appeal.”

Riley Rogerson

Riley Rogerson is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Washington, D.C., and is a fellow with Report for America. Contact her at