Thursday, January 12, 2006


The Seattle Times’ Craig Welch fills us in on the Bush Administration’s decision to open the Teshekpuk Lake country on Alaska’s North Slope to oil drilling:

“Bush administration opens region around Teshekpuk Lake to oil drilling”

A little good news for everyone, I think. Even if it isn’t an all-around “win-win,” it’s about as close as you ever get in the messy world of petroleum extraction.

Good news for the pro-drilling faction:

First of all, it demonstrates a point I have made repeatedly: Any resource reserved by legislative fiat today can be released the same way tomorrow: Ronald Reagan’s Interior Department set this aside. Thusly it’s there for us today.

Second, here’s another estimated two billion barrels worth of oil.

Third, that’s two billion barrels in the middle of a vast opportunity: Teshekpuk Lake is part of the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska, known by the shorthand NPR-A. Larger than ANWR – fifteen times larger than ANWR’s area 1002 - NPR-A is already being actively worked in scattered locations from Prudhoe Bay to Barrow and south toward the Brooks Range. Several small fields are on line with more to follow. The oil is interspersed among vast coal deposits yielding coal-gas which can be shipped with the oil. “Filling in the gaps” will certainly maximize infrastructure use and minimize its cost.

And environmentalists can thank the fates this isn’t ANWR, which is a comfortable 150 miles to the east. This could even make development of area 1002 of ANWR a moot point for now: There is several years’ worth of full-tilt development now before the drillers on the North Slope, logistical constraints being what they are.

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