WASHINGTON, DC�The US Energy Information Administration has reported that the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could contain as much as 16 billion bbl of recoverable oil, much of it economically recoverable.
Senate Energy Committee Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-Alas.) had requested the report. He pushed a bill earlier this year to allow ANWR leasing and has inserted the measure in a recent comprehensive energy bill. The Clinton administration strongly opposes ANWR development.
The EIA report, using US Geologic Survey data, projected a 95% probability of there being at least 5.7 billion bbl of oil in ANWR, a 5% probability of at least 16 billion bbl, and a mean value of 10.3 billion bbl. It said production could peak at 0.6-1.9 million b/d and could be maintained for more than 30 years.
Murkowski said, at current prices, all of the technically recoverable oil found on the coastal plain would be commercially viable to produce.
He said the study by EIA, an independent agency within the US Department of Energy, estimated the US has 23 billion bbl of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil in the onshore Lower 48 states.
�ANWR could yield more than 16 billion bbl of oil over its lifetime, yet this administration has ignored that resource in favor of begging the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to send us more oil. Their reason has been protecting the environment,� Murkowski said.
He said oil exploration would only occur on 1.5 million acres of the 19 million million-acre coastal plain, and development could be limited to 2,000 acres.
Murkowski sees no environmental reasons that should preclude ANWR development. He said Alaska already has 192 million acres of parks, refuges, preserves, and conservation areas�including 58 million acres of designated wilderness equal to the size of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Maryland combined.
�Further, the coastal plain is not an untouched area. It has the village of Kaktovik with 222 residents as well as a number of old radar sites. None of this human habitation has disturbed the caribou or other wildlife,� he said.