NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 22, 2005

Critics of drilling in a minuscule portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) are wrong in saying the area would provide only a few month's supply. With enhanced recovery techniques, ANWR oil could provide another 30 to 50 years of reliable supply, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

Advocates of opening ANWR to drilling point out our experience with Prudhoe Bay, which first went online in 1977:

  • In 1977, it was estimated that only 35 percent oil in Prudhoe Bay was technically recoverable, limiting the potential resource to about 9.6 billion barrels.
  • Current expected recovery is in the 20 billion-barrel range and potential recovery has risen to 65 percent.

Interior Secretary Gail Norton says Section 1002, the area of ANWR that President Jimmy Carter set aside for exploration, could contain anywhere from 5.7 million to 16 billion barrels of oil as well as huge reserves of natural gas.

The United States Geological Survey estimates the mean volume of technically recoverable conventional oil in the entire assessment area of ANWR, including federal lands, native-owned private lands and state regulated waters, to be 10.4 billion barrels.

Based on that data, the U.S. Department of the Interior has provided statistics on the number of years that ANWR oil would supply each state, based on each state's petroleum consumption. Some examples:

  • The state with the lowest number of years that could be supplied with ANWR oil is Texas at 9 years. The highest is D.C. at 1,710 years.
  • Other states at the lower end of years supplied include California at 16, Florida at 29, Michigan at 52, and Massachusetts at 75 years.

Source: Editorial, "Supply and Demand: High Oil Prices Make ANWR More of a Necessity," Investor's Business Daily, March 16, 2005.

For U.S. Interior Department statistics:


Browse more articles on Environment Issues