Cross-posted at that blog thing I have
The New York Times had an article yesterday about yet another environmentally sensitive area in Alaska that is "brimming with oil." The area in question --called Teshekpuk-- is 217,000 acres on the North Slope of Alaska that is the summer home to 50,00 - 90,000 migratory birds. This area has been off limits to oil companies for presidents Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton. But now they say the available oil has quadrupled.
Quadrupled! Wow! That must be a lot! How much oil are we talking, total? Find out below the fold . . .
Well, according to the article:
Just how much oil is in the northeast corner of the reserve is a matter of professional guesses, most of them the proprietary information of companies. In 2002, the United States Geological Survey gave a mean estimate of 9.3 billion barrels, compared with the Arctic refuge's mean estimate of 7.7 billion barrels. The oil is concentrated, the geologists said, in the northern third of the petroleum reserve, which includes Teshekpuk.
Holy shit! A billion is a huge number! So 9.3 billion is "huge x 9.3," right?
Well, sort of.
My problem with decimating pristine wildlife habitat for a few bucks . . . er . . . I mean, my problem with pushing Alaskan oil as "a step towards energy independence" is that it just seems a tad dishonest. Take ANWR, for instance, since they've already decided to work that over. Using the number quoted above, it has an estimated 7.7 billion barrels(bbl) of oil. Not quite as huge as "9.3 x huge," "7.7 x huge" is still a pretty large number.
. . . until it's put into perspective. The U.S. Department of Energy's "Energy Information Administration" has a very informative web site up
with all manner of facts, including this: in the first 10 months of 2004, the United States consumed 20.4 million bbl/day of oil. Assuming that usage stayed constant for the last two months, that would be 7.446 billion bbl/year, rounded off. So ANWR gives us 1.03 years of oil, based on current usage statistics
. Teshekpuk gives us 1.25 years. Fifteen months.
That's still good though, right? We go in, we get it, we use it! Ba-da-boom, ba-da-bing! Take that, Middle East!
Well no. It's not like we can go turn on a spigot into a gas truck and drive it down to the corner station to fill the tanks. Based on that handy EIA website
we learn that
In early 2000, the Energy Information Administration (EIA), in response to a Congressional request, issued a report on potential oil reserves and production from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The report, which cited a 1998 U.S. Geological Survey study of ANWR oil resources, projected that for the mean resource case (10.3 billion barrels technically recoverable), ANWR peak production rates could range from 1.0 to 1.35 million bbl/d, with initial ANWR production possibly beginning around 2010, and peak production 20-30 years after that.
Note that they say 10.3, while The Times says 7.7. I would assume the difference is that between "mean average" and "technically recoverable." But to-MAY-to, to-MAH-to. That would give us 1.38 years instead of 1.03 years. The important points are bolded, and then underlined for extra emphasis in the quote above. Not only will ANWR not start producing anything
for at leat five years, it would be the year 2030 before it reached its peak capacity of 1.35 million
bbl/d, and right now we're burning 20.4 million bbl/d.
Do you think with alternate fuel technologies and an investment in more eco-friendly infrastructure (i.e., mass transit) we could do a lot better than 1.35 million bbl/d by 2030? Huh?
I guess the oil industry isn't so sure, based on the crap this dillhole analyst says (from the Times article):
"What the industry is saying," said John B. Parry, a financial analyst, "is that we've invested billions of dollars in infrastructure, pipelines and so on, and we've got a 10- to 20-year bridge before we can switch our energy sources. So, do we want to take advantage of the already developed infrastructure of the oil fields to help ourselves?"
Note that misleading mendacity about "infrastructure," to make us all think that we'll be swimming in that sweet, sweet Alaskan crude by some time next week. All they mean by that is, "Well, we've got this big pipe we built that we could use once we get it out of the ground." But it's still a much sexier statement for the oil pigs than the truth: start now, and we might have that fifteen months' worth of oil out of the ground by 2050!
SWEET! START THE PUMPS, AND I'LL GO BUY A HUMMER!
So don't be fooled --and don't let anyone you know be fooled-- by this claim that we can Alaska our way to "energy independence." The hard truth is that compared to our current
oil usage, the so-called great oceans of oil under Alaska are drops in the bucket. And, given the time to market for these "oceans," the focus on them instead of conservation and alternative energies can be chalked up to the short-sightedness and greed of the oil sluts that are running the country right now.
Which should surprise exactly none of you.