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Drilling in offshore Alaska Arctic

From a former employee of Shell Oil USA

Latest industry estimates are that the new drilling technologies have given and will give the US about 100 years worth of gas reserves from unconventional ‘tight’ shales, sands, carbonates and hydrocarbon ‘source’ rocks. That is about 2500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Actual proven reserves are now about 1/4 to 1/3 that amount.

What I find interesting about the gas reserve estimates for both the Chukchi and Beaufort offshore areas is that it does not exceed 25 trillion cubic feet, or about one years worth of domestic US consumption.

The question now is : Why do we want to drill for this gas in such a hostile environment now, when we really don’t have any need for the gas? The logic escapes me.

Oil reserve estimates for both areas are on the order of 20 billion bbls. While that is a significant amount of oil, not producing it will do nothing to effect the global price of oil, now or in the near future. And it is only about 8 months worth of current global consumption.

Alaska’s state budget will be drastically effected because of lost royalty revenues if those reserves are not produced. But so what? There are other areas in the state to drill for oil and gas that are not nearly as environmentally sensitive, or where ‘accidents’ won’t have such a severe environmental impact, such as the National Petroleum Reserve.

All things considered, including the off shore operating track record of the major oil companies in far less hostile environments, I think it is best to just sit back and wait awhile before trying to develop oil and gas reserves in the Alaskan Arctic. We can afford to do so. And I see no compelling ‘national security’ need to proceed ahead. Any so-called ‘national security imperative’ that would supposedly require drilling in the off shore Alaskan Arctic is a canard.

Actually, bringing Iraq’s damaged oil industry back online will do more to ease global oil supply problems and stabilize prices than any production from the offshore Alaskan arctic.

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