How tiny? Tiny enough to be completely lost in the noise of a more rational approach to gasoline usage. More below...
For the moment, let's forget this is peak daily production (i.e., much of the time, it'll be less). Also, let's forget that much of this oil will be sold outside the U.S. So, with optimism fully engaged, onward.
There are about 300 million people in the United States, so everyone's personal share works out to 0.0029 barrels per day. Refining crude oil gives about 20 gallons of gasoline per barrel, so every day, every person in the U. S. gets an extra 0.0584 gallons of gas. How much is that? It's 7.47 fluid ounces. Just barely under a cup, if you like. Not a lot -- after all, we usually fill our cars with multiple gallons, not cups.
Anyway, let's figure out how much that cup of gasoline gets you. Typical gas mileage in the city -- where most people run their errands -- is about 20 mpg. It's a lot less if you have a big SUV. At 20 mpg, every person's extra 0.058 gallons of gas per day is enough to drive (0.058 x 20) = 1.16 miles.
That's your share of the ANWR. At peak production, you get an extra cup of gasoline, which is about enough to drive 1 mile a day. I can think of lots of ways many of us can travel 1 mile per day without using any gas, and so without any drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Like using a pair of these:
or a pair of these:
or one of these:
or one of these:
or following the example of the folks in the small car on the left:
or for that matter, checking the proper condition of these:
since proper tire pressure can add a mpg or two, thus giving you your 1 extra mile per day if you have a longish commute.
Even in the most optimistic scenarios, peak production is about 2 times higher (1,595,000 barrels per day). So you might -- just might -- get 2 miles per day out of the ANWR oil instead of 1 -- if everything is unexpectedly good.
And, remember, all of this makes three very optimistic assumptions.
- All the ANWR oil goes back into the U.S. Everything I've seen suggests it'll just go on the global market and only a portion will end up here in the U.S.
- Peak production is typical. It isn't. For much of the lifetime of the ANWR oil reserves, production will be lower than that 876 thousand barrels per day.
- All the ANWR oil goes to personal consumption as gasoline. In reality, some will become heating oil, some will become diesel fuel, some will become jet fuel, some will fuel commercial car and truck fleets...so in reality, the oil will be spread much thinner.