June 22, 2008

ANWR: Too Little, Too Late

Source: Wikipedia

Based on some of the comments I've received recently, there seems to be some resistance to the idea that American oil production can be increased and gasoline prices lowered if only the U.S. will drill for more oil in various restricted areas, such as offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

This ain't gonna happen, folks.

Let's take the case of ANWR:

In May of 2008 the Energy Information Administration released the following report:

"The opening of the ANWR 1002 Area to oil and natural gas development is projected to increase domestic crude oil production starting in 2018. In the mean ANWR oil resource case, additional oil production resulting from the opening of ANWR reaches 780,000 barrels per day in 2027 and then declines to 710,000 barrels per day in 2030. In the low and high ANWR oil resource cases, additional oil production resulting from the opening of ANWR peaks in 2028 at 510,000 and 1.45 million barrels per day, respectively. Between 2018 and 2030, cumulative additional oil production is 2.6 billion barrels for the mean oil resource case, while the low and high resource cases project a cumulative additional oil production of 1.9 and 4.3 billion barrels, respectively." [Source]

The report also states:

"Additional oil production resulting from the opening of ANWR would be only a small portion of total world oil production, and would likely be offset in part by somewhat lower production outside the United States. The opening of ANWR is projected to have its largest oil price reduction impacts as follows: a reduction in low-sulfur, light crude oil prices of $0.41 per barrel (2006 dollars) in 2026 for the low oil resource case, $0.75 per barrel in 2025 for the mean oil resource case, and $1.44 per barrel in 2027 for the high oil resource case, relative to the reference case." [Source; page 6]

For the average case, drilling in ANWR would reduce crude oil by 75 cents, in 2025. The total production from ANWR would be between 0.4 and 1.2 percent of total world oil consumption in 2030. [Source; page 17]

So, let's review the facts. If the U.S. were to begin drilling for oil in ANWR today, the earliest it would start to increase American oil production is ten years from now. This isn't some overnight cure or even something that will help us within a year or two. This is a "solution" that will take a DECADE to implement. What are you going to do in the meantime? Your gas prices won't go down just because ANWR was opened up to drilling.

Then, in the best case scenario, oil pumped out of ANWR amounts to 1.45 million barrels per day. Sounds like a lot; it isn't. For 2007, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated that a total of 82.501 million barrels of crude oil were pumped out of the earth every day. 1.45 million barrels compared to 82.501 million barrels is 1.76%. DROP IN THE F****** BUCKET, PEOPLE!

How much will oil prices drop when ANWR finally goes on line? At best, a mere $1.44 per barrel (in 2006 dollars) in 2027, nineteen years from now. Right now, as I write this, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil is selling for $134.62. If we could apply that best case scenario of ANWR oil to current oil prices, then WTI oil might be down to $133.18 (at best). Wow, an astounding drop of... 1.07%. Such a bargain! NOT!

ANWR will not solve America's oil problems. Offshore oil drilling will not solve America's oil problems. It's all too little, too late. Only a massive conservation effort in which crude oil consumption per person goes down by a huge level (at a minimum 50%) is going to help solve America's oil problems.

Until then, you're screwed.


Anonymous said...

What about making oil from coal using the Fischer-Tropsch process?

(Preferably using nuclear energy to provide the process heat and the hydrogen?)

JDsg said...

It can and has been done (South Africa made extensive use of it during their apartheid years), but it's still fairly costly and doesn't provide as much energy per unit as other fuels do. Still, this may become a vital source of fuel in the future.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I think it is exceedingly dangerous in general for Muslims to flirt with environmentalists or "peak oil" alarmists.

First of all, because the neocons can turn it around by suggesting that we must wage war to conquer the Middle East oil fields because our very lives depend upon it.

Secondly, because the more radical environmentalists believe that humanity needs to be culled (believing that the Earth cannot support its current population). In the present Islamophobic climate, who do you think the first candidates for culling would be?

JDsg said...

George: I'm not terribly worried about either group. The "more radical environmentalists" are unlikely to wield any power that will allow them to go genocidal (insha'allah), and the neo-cons don't need the peak oil people (which is a theory I subscribe to) to tell them that the oil's running out.