A place designated in the 1980’s after oil explorers lost interest in drilling there, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is once again under attack. The attack comes in a $1.5 Trillion dollar tax cut bill, and forces the wishful thinking that the Arctic is home to boundless oil for our riches. The reality isn’t so rosy as that, and the ones who will pay the price the heaviest are the animals who call the Arctic home.
The administration promises $100 billion dollars of revenue over a decade, while honest estimates predict a modest $37.5 million dollar return over the same time period. Rosy averages put the Arctic at having 7 billion barrels of oil, the truth is less optimistic. Oh and the oil isn’t in one large, easily accessible reserve, it’s most likely spread out over 35 small traps, underneath the harshest terrain for drilling outside the Atlantic.
The possible return on the oil is modest. 7 million barrels or less won’t put a dent in barrel prices. In fact, even with drilling in the Arctic meeting the best case scenario estimates pit the price of oil per barrel at $67. Best case scenario. The only winner will be Alaska, whose economy relies on oil investments from outside, with the benefit lasting for as long as the drills are in the refuge. Once the oils gone, so will the benefits Alaska is so keen on achieving.
This is a desperate attempt to cash out in the end of days for a market that no longer exists. The days of quick riches from oil are over, and this beckons the noise you make when you try to suck up the very last bit of soda in your ice filled cup. You have to put in more effort to get very little back, when in recent memory you could put very little in for a huge return. That’s the state of oil exploration. Animals, landscape, entire ecology will suffer the consequences of that desperation.
That’s my summation. For a deeper, more comprehensive look into this situation, take a gander at this article from the National Geographic.