NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

In the Race for Arctic Energy, the U.S. and Russia are Polar Opposites

August 28, 2015

While the cost of energy is currently in a lull, the United States still imports 40 percent of crude oil needs at the cost of $23.5 billion a month. With almost half of all imported oil purchased from OPEC members, the need to develop alternative energy resources in Alaska is apparent, especially as the natural resources of the Arctic are beginning to draw international attention.

  • The Royal Dutch Shell′s approved drilling permit is the only energy exploration currently allowed in U.S. Arctic waters.
  • In 2014, Russia produced roughly 2.2 million barrels of offshore oil from the Prirazlomnaya field in the Arctic's Pechora Sea.
  • From 2009-2013 Chinese companies were the largest buyers of international oil assets, many of which were in Arctic regions.
  • Russia recently submitted a claim for a 200 nautical-mile exclusive economic zone for continental-shelf area of the Arctic.

The current leadership position as chairman of the Arctic Council could be beneficial to the U.S. for ensuring favorable positions on shipping, resources and fisheries standards, and constructive regional engagement. Alaska's outer continental could be ready to produce in 10 to 15 years, right as experts predict shale-oil production and crude-oil production to plateau and possibly decline. However, if policy makers continue to thwart energy companies attempts to develop this strategic reason, Russia and China′s development of the Arctic could pose serious problems for the United States in the future.

Source:  Gary Roughead, "In the Race for Arctic Energy, the U.S. and Russia are Polar Opposites," Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2015.

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