Friday, August 12, 2005

Big Oil isn't interested in ANWR, but Vincent Carroll is...

In today's Rocky Mountain News editorial page editor Vincent Carroll write a piece entitled "Oil Obstructionists". Carroll claims that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is being held up by obstructionists. Carroll writes,

To the obstructionists who oppose increased energy production - not just in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge but also on the continental shelf of the lower 48, in western Colorado and indeed just about anywhere with genuine promise - pumping more oil and natural gas is never the answer.


Which obstructionists would those be Mr. Carroll? Big oil has stated that they are simply not interested in drilling in ANWR. From the New York Times on February 21, 2005

Once allied, the administration and the oil industry are now far apart on the issue. The major oil companies are largely uninterested in drilling in the refuge, skeptical about the potential there. Even the plan's most optimistic backers agree that any oil from the refuge would meet only a tiny fraction of America's needs...

...Whether that battle will be worthwhile, though, is not clear. Neither advocates nor critics can answer a crucial question: how much oil lies beneath the wilderness where the administration wants to permit drilling?

Advocates cite a 1998 government study that estimated the part of the refuge proposed for drilling might hold 10 billion barrels of oil. But only one test well has been drilled, in the 1980's, and its results are one of the industry's most closely guarded secrets.

A Bush adviser says the major oil companies have a dimmer view of the refuge's prospects than the administration does. "If the government gave them the leases for free they wouldn't take them," said the adviser, who would speak only anonymously because of his position. "No oil company really cares about ANWR," the adviser said, using an acronym for the refuge, pronounced "an-war."

Wayne Kelley, who worked in Alaska as a petroleum engineer for Halliburton, the oil services corporation, and is now managing director of RSK, an oil consulting company, said the refuge's potential could "only be determined by drilling."

"The enthusiasm of government officials about ANWR exceeds that of industry because oil companies are driven by market forces, investing resources in direct proportion to the economic potential, and the evidence so far about ANWR is not promising," Mr. Kelley said...

...ExxonMobil also has shown little public enthusiasm for the refuge. Lee R. Raymond, the chairman and chief executive, said in an television interview last December, "I don't know if there is anything in ANWR or not."


The fight over ANWR is not about America's present oil needs, as evidenced by the complete lack of interest in ANWR by America's big oil companies. Instead ANWR is a purely political battle, it's a chance for the Bush administration to flex their muscle and prove that they can drill anywhere they want. To pretend that ANWR is somehow the end all of our oil needs is just absurd, just ask the big oil companies.

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