Alaskan Offshore Energy
The United States has large offshore oil potential, similar
to Russia and larger than Canada and Norway. Facilitating
exploration in the U.S. Arctic would enhance national,
economic and energy security, benefit the people of the
north and the United States as a whole, and position the
United States to exercise global leadership. — National Petroleum Council
Access to oil and natural gas resources in the Alaska outer
continental shelf (OCS) under balanced and science-based
regulations is essential to the nation’s economy and energy
security. The Arctic contains the world’s largest remaining
conventional, undiscovered oil and natural gas, estimated
at 13 percent of recoverable oil and 30 percent of recoverable
natural gas resources.
Alaska’s OCS is estimated to contain 48 billion barrels of oil
equivalent, with more than 90 percent of this in less than 330
feet of water – where industry already has exploration and
production technology and operating experience. Given the
resource potential and long timelines required to bring Arctic
resources to market, Arctic exploration today may provide a
material impact to U.S. oil production in the future, potentially
averting decline, improving U.S. energy security and
benefiting the regional and overall U.S. economy.
The search for energy resources in the Arctic is not new.
Industry has extensive experience operating safely and
responsibly in cold water and Arctic environments around
the world, from Alaska to Norway to Sakhalin. Thirty-five wells
have been drilled in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas with no
measurable impact on the environment. Decades of industry
operations in Alaska demonstrate that safety, environmental
protection and respect for native communities and cultures
are core values for the oil and natural gas industry.
Based on current estimates, the Chukchi and Beaufort seas
offer more energy resources than any other undeveloped
U.S. basin. Fortunately, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy
Management’s draft leasing plan for 2017-2022 includes both
these regions as targets for exploration and development.
While the Arctic environment poses different challenges
than a number of areas where industry operates, these
are generally well understood. Industry has been working
there for a long time, and going forward it is critical that the
public policy debate is fact-based – safe Arctic development
has been ongoing and will continue. We need to ensure
performance-based regulations are implemented that will
allow operators to minimize risks by taking advantage of
evolving technologies to design well programs tailored to
the ecosystem and geologic conditions of the particular well.