Murkowski Proposes Directional Drilling to Tap ANWR’S Oil and Gas Reserves

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, speaking today during her seventh annual address to the Alaska Legislature, urged change in the way Americans approach energy production in Alaska.   
Murkowski said she plans to introduce legislation that will allow oil from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to be developed initially using only directional drilling techniques and no surface occupancy of ANWR.  This legislation would take advantage of the vast technological improvements in underground oil development to allow oil under the refuge to be siphoned from state land based production platforms.
“If we drill from state lands and waters, there will no occupancy, no pipelines, building or facilities to impact the refuge or this wildlife,” Murkowski said.  “America will get the energy it needs and those concerned about the impact to wilderness will be able to enjoy and preserve the refuge exactly as it is today.  It is the best of both worlds.”
Murkowski noted that current directional drilling technology would only permit about 10 percent of the refuge’s estimated oil and 80 percent of its natural gas to be produced, but future subsurface oil technology may well substantially increase those percentages.  She said the advantage of her new proposal is that drilling from state lands will allow oil production to begin sooner, and that Congress has already approved the “no surface occupancy” precedent in development of a wilderness area when it approved the Wyoming Range Legacy Act of 2007, the first bill to permit underground oil development form beneath a wilderness area.
“I ask the new administration to approach this conversation over ANWR with an open mind,” Murkowski said.  “We have an innovative, brand-new approach to energy production.  I urge those opposed to development in ANWR to take a close look at my proposal – it will not harm ANWR’s tundra or ecosystem or the Porcupine caribou herd which does not travel on state lands.”