ANWR directional drilling
February 28, 2009
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on Friday
introduced legislation that would allow the use of advanced directional
drilling to tap the vast energy potential of the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge coastal plain without disturbing the unique characteristics
of the area.
The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, would allow
access to the coastal plain's oil and natural gas resources through
the use of underground directional drilling from state-owned
lands to the west of the refuge and state waters from the north.
"Everybody wins with this bill America improves its
energy security and the conservation community is ensured that
there will be no visible impact on the refuge," Murkowski
said. "I urge those previously opposed to oil and gas exploration
in ANWR to take a fresh look at this issue and show a willingness
The legislation seeks to find a compromise with those groups
concerned with preserving the 1.5 million acre coastal plain
while recognizing the need to improve our energy security and
economy by meeting more of our energy needs with domestic production.
"Directional drilling provides a great opportunity to tap
the Arctic refuge's vast oil and gas potential with minimal disruption
to the wild lands and the wildlife which depend on them,"
Begich said. "I have been a long-time supporter of this
cutting-edge technology and am hopeful this measure will help
lead to an informed discussion about how to address America's
energy needs and how Alaska can help meet them. Developing the
enormous energy resources on Alaska's North Slope should be part
of a comprehensive national energy policy which also includes
renewable energy and conservation."
Begich added that he appreciates Murkowski's leadership on this
issue as she steers the legislation with her ranking position
on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Directional drilling would allow energy companies to reach oil
deposits up to eight miles away with no surface occupancy in
the refuge. Production platforms on state lands and waters would
be far away from the calving areas most used by the Porcupine
caribou herd that visits the coastal plain in summer.
The bill is based on the successful compromise reached in the
Wyoming Range Legacy Act of 2007, which permitted resources to
be accessed underground through directional drilling in a new
wilderness area as long as there was no permanent surface impacts.
Revenue raised from development of ANWR would be distributed
evenly between the state and federal treasuries. The bill also
includes $15 million of mitigation impact aid to North Slope
residents. A portion of the federal proceeds would also be dedicated
to renewable energy, energy efficiency and wildlife habitat and
mitigation programs nationwide.
Development of the coastal plain could create as many as 700,000
new high-paying jobs and provide badly needed revenue as
much as $112 billion in royalties, lease payments and corporate
taxes for the nation's new energy priorities.
The Department of the Interior estimates that more than 1 billion
barrels of oil and 7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are available
within eight miles of the western edge of ANWR, and are reachable
through directional drilling. While this represents just 10 percent
of the oil and about 80 percent of the gas estimated to be contained
beneath the refuge, future advances in directional drilling technology
will allow companies to capture an ever increasing amount of
the area's resources.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the ANWR coastal plain contains
between 10 billion and 16 billion barrels of oil, and 8.6 trillion
cubic feet of natural gas making it the largest undeveloped
onshore conventional oil deposit in North America.
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