Murkowski Applauds SAFE Report on Directional Drilling in ANWR

Report Advocates Directional Drilling Pilot Program to Tap 1002 Area Oil

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today commended a new report by the group Securing America's Energy Future (SAFE) calling for a real-world test of directional drilling techniques to tap into the estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil contained in the non-wilderness portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

“This is a concept that I have long offered as a reasonable alternative to those who oppose conventional development of the 1002 Area,” Murkowski said. “While I still favor responsible production within the coastal plain, this compromise allows us to access much of the resource without the same environmental risk, making it a commonsense solution that everyone should be able to embrace.”

In 1980, Congress passed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which designated the 1002 area of ANWR for oil and gas exploration. Despite promising information from exploratory drilling and seismic data, as well as strong industry interest, the federal government has kept the entire area off limits to development. 

 SAFE is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to reducing America’s dependence on oil. The SAFE report (full version here) states:

“The existence of the Point Thompson project so close to the 1002 Area provides an opportunity for the industry to use extended reach drilling to develop ANWR oil without establishing a surface presence in ANWR itself and without necessarily adding substantially to the existing industry footprint on state lands. In a recent Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, a representative from Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources suggested that extended reach drilling from Point Thompson into the 1002 Area could have a major impact on production.”

As the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Murkowski has been a strong advocate for developing the energy potential in the non-wilderness portion of ANWR. At the beginning of the 112th Congress, Murkowski introduced two measures to open ANWR for production. One would allow companies to drill within the coastal plain of ANWR, while the other would allow for only directional drilling.

“Now is the time for us to open ANWR for development,” Murkowski said. “We need to develop our own domestic resources instead of continuing to rely on foreign oil.”

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there are between 5.7 billion and 16.0 billion barrels of technically-recoverable oil in ANWR, with a mean estimate of 10.4 billion barrels. At a rate of an estimated 1 million barrels per day, ANWR’s reserves could produce oil for our nation for more than 28 years. At current prices, ANWR’s reserves are worth roughly $1 trillion.     

Opening ANWR to production is expected to create roughly 70,000 American jobs. At a time when our unemployment is 9.2 percent, job creation should be a top priority. The Congressional Research Service estimates that federal revenues from ANWR development could total $152.9 billion at oil prices of $100 per barrel.

“Right now we have a choice,” Murkowski said. “We can choose to produce Alaska’s oil – a move that will create jobs, generate revenues, reduce our foreign oil dependence and reduce our massive federal debt – or we can continue to let the administration and others lock up these lands – and lose jobs, lose revenues, increase our oil dependence, and let our trade deficit balloon.