In his recent visit to Alaska, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke began laying the groundwork development. He ordered a new assessment of the area’s potential oil reserves.to open the 3% of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge contained in Area 1002 to oil
The most recent comprehensive study by the United States Geological Survey was completed in 1998, and its mean estimate of recoverable reserves in Area 1002 was 7.7 BBO (billion barrels of oil). At $45 a barrel, that’s $346 billion. Most of this oil lies in the western portion, near the terminus of the Trans Alaska Pipeline at Prudhoe Bay.
Development of Area 1002, alone, would fill the Alaska pipeline, currently running at 25% of capacity, for a minimum of 10-15 years. Additional development of the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska could add as much or more. And recall that this USGS survey is 19 years old. The new, revised numbers could be eye popping.
The impact of this development on the state of Alaska would rival that of Prudhoe Bay itself. Revenue to the state would soar. Instead of raiding its Permanent Fund, it could add billions to its principal. Employment would rise, and property values recover. It would be a boon to Alaska and its people.
But isn’t the world awash in crude? The shale revolution shows no sign of slowing down, and Russia and Saudi Arabia are cutting production in a bid to stabilize prices. Who needs Alaska oil?
As Secretary Zinke said in Anchorage, the United States seeks not energy independence, but energy dominance. This can be achieved by using American oil as a tool of foreign policy, as it has been for a hundred years.
Our most important ally in the Pacific is Japan, with a navy inferior only to our own. We have a strategic interest in ensuring it a stable and secure energy supply. This can be accomplished by selling it the oil from ANWR Area 1002, and NPR-A.
It’s 3600 miles from the Alaska pipeline’s terminus at Valdez to Yokohama, a bit more than the trip to Los Angeles. More important than distance is security of passage. The seas between Alaska and Japan are under the total control of the United States Navy and its allies.