Monday, April 17, 2006

follow-up: drilling in the Arctic

Here's a quick follow-up to the previous post. I've heard some widely diverging estimates of what drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) would achieve, so I decided to run the numbers. According to the USGS's 1998 assessment, ANWR contains between 4.3 and 11.8 billion barrels of "technically recoverable" oil (that's the 5% to 95% confidence levels) with a mean of 7.7 billion. The CIA's World Factbook estimates U.S. oil consumption for 2003 at 20.03 million barrels per day. Using that rate as a baseline, ANWR could supply the U.S. with enough oil for between 215 and 589 days (0.6 to 1.6 years) with a mean of 384 days (just over 1 year). Those timespans don't seem worth the effort if we're trying to meet Mr. Bush's goal of ending the country's dependence on imported oil.

OK, but what about the impact on the price of oil, which I've been saying is correlated with the price of gasoline? The Energy Information Administration released a March, 2004 study saying
With respect to the world oil price impact, ANWR coastal plain oil production in 2025 is projected to constitute between 0.5 to 1.3 percent of total world oil consumption. It is expected that the price impact of ANWR coastal plain production might reduce world oil prices by as much as 30 to 50 cents per barrel, relative to a projected 2025 world oil price of $27 per barrel (2002 dollars) in the AEO2004 reference case. Assuming that world oil markets continue to work as they do today, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries could countermand any potential price impact of ANWR coastal plain production by reducing its exports by an equal amount.
You can find an MSNBC report on the study here.

Again, I think we're left with the hard truth that if we don't like gas prices, the answer is to stop wanting gas so much.

No comments: