NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

A U.S. No Longer Dependent on Mid-East Oil?

May 20, 2002

Alaska's North Slope is literally oozing with oil. There is much more there than previously thought. By developing the reserves and continuing to rely on imports from Canada and Mexico, we could eventually sever our dependence on imports from countries in the politically unstable Middle East, say observers.

  • Twenty years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated there were 2.1 billion barrels that were economically recoverable beneath the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.
  • The most recent estimates put that figure at perhaps 13.2 billion barrels.
  • Another 7.7 billion barrels lurk beneath the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- 100 miles east of the reserve.
  • If fields in both areas ran at peak production, they would supply nearly as much crude as we import from Persian Gulf countries -- which now supply 13 percent of our needs.

Developing those fields would give Washington policy options it hasn't enjoyed for years. As has frequently been pointed out, development doesn't entail abandoning ecological considerations. But even if it did, considering the dangerous state of the world today, development is an option that can't be abandoned.

Source: Editorial, "Alaska's Slippery Slope," Investor's Business Daily, May 20, 2002.


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