Developing Domestic Oil Resources Is Part of the Solution
ANWR coastal plain has the highest potential for oil onshore in the U.S.
November 3, 2011
In 1995, Congress approved drilling on the Coastal Plain--or 10-02 area--of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Had President Clinton not vetoed that legislation, oil from the 10-02 area would be flowing through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline today, reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil and fueling our economy with jobs and billions of dollars in tax and royalty revenues to state, local, and federal governments.
The coastal plain has the highest potential for oil onshore in the United States, up to 16 billion barrels, according to estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey. In comparison, since the 1970s, more than 16 billion barrels of oil have been produced from Alaska's North Slope. Oil production from the Coastal Plain could be expected to flow through TAPS for at least another 30 years.
The resources on the coastal plain are accessible and close to the largest oil field in the United States, Prudhoe Bay. Since satellite fields and feeder pipelines already exist within a few miles of ANWR's border, production could be flowing through TAPS much earlier than from other frontier areas. Moreover, development would occur on a minute portion of the refuge, 2,000 acres, or about one-tenth of 1-percent of the refuge's acreage.
The existing statutory and regulatory scheme requires companies working in Alaska to perform to the highest environmental standards in the world. In addition, new technologies such as 3D seismic and extended-reach drilling have significantly reduced surface footprints while reaching much larger subsurface areas. Fields can be developed using these technologies in combination with site-specific mitigation measures, further reducing environmental impacts.
In 2010, the U.S. consumed 19.1 million barrels of petroleum products per day, importing over 50 percent, costing hundreds of millions of dollars per day and resulting in the export of hundreds of thousands of jobs. While there is no single solution to meet these needs in the future, developing domestic oil resources should be part of the equation. Ignoring ANWR is short-sighted, dangerous and a drain on the U.S. economy. The time to drill ANWR is now.