28 Dec 2017

Note to PolicySmith followers:  This post concludes our first calendar year.  Thank you for your interest.  There will be less frequent entries in the coming several months as we take some time away.  Look for a return in early spring.  Have a safe and prosperous 2018.

The wild ride of this calendar year closes with a fitting end to the long and painful saga of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s Section 1002-A.  Long the marquee cause for enviro hysteria and histrionics, drilling on the acreage specifically set aside for oil and gas exploration seemed a remote prospect.

With the stroke of the Presidential pen, the ban is no more.  The hue and cry about the last wild places, the pristine landscape, a caribou herd to be victimized/decimated are now of yesterday.  The reality is the development area will be at maximum the size of the Anchorage airport within the Refuge that is roughly the size of the state of South Carolina.  There are no trees within 50 miles and there is a village with stores and an air strip in this so-called “pristine wilderness,”

Pictured above: ANWR’s Coastal Plain

Another useful measure is the development is of relatively the same scale as a pencil sticking up in New York’s Central Park.  For more color, detail and insights into residents’ sentiments, visit www.anwr.org.  Another fruitful exercise is to simply google ANWR and read the chapter and verse.

The PolicySmith’s Alaska associates intimate that the industry has moved on from the complex and perhaps difficult drilling scenarios at ANWR to the west where there are multiple prospective zones and the site of a recent discovery.  Ironic that the battle is won, and interest in the “crown jewel” may be on the wane.

Regardless the results, Alaska’s fortunes appear to have turned upward.  Exploration interest is percolating, the pipeline is getting some new throughput with more on the horizon.  And – TAPS (Trans Alaska Pipeline System) could get a sister line paralleling it.  Governor Walker’s singular focus on a gas line has borne fruit and coupled with an export project is on the move.

The Alaska Gasline Development Corp. has partnered with three Chinese companies for financing and purchase agreements for North Slope gas.  The stranded gas has been continuously reinjected to maintain reservoir pressure at Prudhoe Bay.  A gas line would resurrect the long dormant search for natural gas in the US Arctic.  First deliveries from the project are forecast for 2023.

It’s worth noting that a late 1980s discovery in the Kara Sea was pegged at 70+ TCF and exploration in the Canadian Arctic Islands at about the same time found giant reservoirs off Elef Ringnes and other islands.  Strategically, with strong Russian interest in Arctic hydrocarbons, the US can ill afford to ignore this highly prospective province.

Alaska has delivered value upon value to the rest of the US – national parks, national forests, wilderness, timber, millions of barrels of oil and recreation for multitudes.  Providing the state the opportunity to realize its economic potential, after decades of neglect, is a major feat for the current Administration.  There are plenty of this Administration’s actions that beg for restraint, its actions in Alaska are laudable and deserving of praise.

2 Responses to Victory, Alaska!
  1. Glad the ending you advocated for came to fruition!!

  2. An arduous battle with a richly deserved outcome for beleaguered Alaskans!


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