Monday, June 23, 2008

Would You Sell Out America for 2 Cents?

In May of 2008 the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy released the following report about oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR):

"The opening of the ANWR 1002 Area to oil and natural gas development is projected to increase domestic crude oil production starting in 2018. In the mean ANWR oil resource case, additional oil production resulting from the opening of ANWR reaches 780,000 barrels per day in 2027 and then declines to 710,000 barrels per day in 2030. In the low and high ANWR oil resource cases, additional oil production resulting from the opening of ANWR peaks in 2028 at 510,000 and 1.45 million barrels per day, respectively. Between 2018 and 2030, cumulative additional oil production is 2.6 billion barrels for the mean oil resource case, while the low and high resource cases project a cumulative additional oil production of 1.9 and 4.3 billion barrels, respectively."

The report goes on to state:

"Additional oil production resulting from the opening of ANWR would be only a small portion of total world oil production, and would likely be offset in part by somewhat lower production outside the United States. The opening of ANWR is projected to have its largest oil price reduction impacts as follows: a reduction in low-sulfur, light crude oil prices of $0.41 per barrel (2006 dollars) in 2026 for the low oil resource case, $0.75 per barrel in 2025 for the mean oil resource case, and $1.44 per barrel in 2027 for the high oil resource case, relative to the reference case."

The Bottom Line: Since there are 42 gallons of gasoline in a barrel of oil, opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuges to oil rigs, pipelines, roads, and year-round settlement would mean an estimated benefit to you of less than 2 cents a gallon in 2025.

And what would be lost for that temporary 2-cent a gallon benefit?Nothing less than America's Serengeti.

Caribou herd, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- America's Serengeti.

Atigun Canyon, the Brooks Range - Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Musk Ox - Arctic National Wildlife Refuge


Henry Chappell said...

Thanks for posting this, Patrick. I'm so tired of hearing about how we need to be drilling ANWR so
gas prices will fall and we can be more "energy independent."

smartdogs said...

As a hydrogeologist, environmental scientist -- and realist -- I must say I have mixed feelings here. Some day. Some time. We need to be open to the idea of 'developing' these resources.

But IMO that time is not now. Technology is advancing at an amazing rate. Given the relatively great amount of time it would take to put these resources to work and the great fragility and uniqueness of the environment they occur in, it absolutely makes sense to take a more prudent approach and wait for technology to improve before going further.

Can't we all just use a bit less please?

Anonymous said...

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I truly believe the secret Cheney energy meetings mapped out what is now happening today. ANWR has been a target of the oil companies for years, what better way to get access to it by manipulating the energy market so the price of gas spikes so high the American public finally cries "uncle" and allows drilling in places that were once sacrosanct.

Do I believe oil is finite? Sure I do, but we need to find alternative sources not just keep drilling. Nothing is sacred to the energy companies, if it were up to them, they would be drilling in your backyard.

And where is Congress? Shouldn't they be looking into the Enron loophole? There is definitely market manipulation going on. Of course I expected this last huge money grab before the Bush/Cheney cabal leave office.

M Evans

PBurns said...

Drilling for oil and natural gas, like coal mining, timber cutting, and hunting, is a bit like walking around stark naked: there's a time, place and manner for it.

In the right place at the right time, it's a necessary and expected thing. At the wrong place at the wrong time and in the wrong manner, it's more than a nuisance; it's criminal.

We allow drilling on most public lands in the US (National Forest land, BLM land, etc.) and in quite a few National Wildlife Reserves as well. No one is crying foul there.

The issue with ANWR is that the oil here is not in a big underground pool that you can put one soda straw into -- it's like an icecube tray and it requires a lot of rigs, and a lot of piping and roads to get it out. It's also on land that is so easily damaged that you can still see the tracks where trucks rolled over the area 20 years ago (in winter and on top of the snow and ice!!). Add in to the mix the fact that the area they want to drill in is in the middle of the calving grounds for one of the largest and longest land migrations on earth (the Porcupine Caribou Herd, numbing 120,000+), and you have a "no go" situation.

Drilling the Arctic Natonal Wildlife Refuge is a bit like drilling the Sea of Cortez where the Gray Whales calve. You don't do it because the loss of the whales would be permanent and exceeds the gain which is temporary.

Other places, creatures and conditions might get you a different answer as to drilling, but drilling ANWR is a "no go" just like carrying a Mac-10 at Disney World is a no-go, or me showing up naked at your next dinner party is a no-go. It's all about time, place and manner.


tws1615 said...

I really enjoy your blog and would like to send you updates on other important environmental issues. May I please have your contact information? Thanks!