Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The ANWR Fallacy, Part 1

The debate over the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve is seen as a choice between protecting the environment and expanding our oil supply. This is a fallacy. Drilling in ANWR will not increase our oil supply.
How could that be? Look at the whole chessboard.
Jimmy Smits on The West Wing asked the rhetorical question: What country sells the most oil to the U.S.? The answer is not Saudi Arabia, but Canada, which shipped 1.6 billion barrels of oil from January to August of this year, according to the Department of Energy. Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela were close behind, with Nigeria fifth with 1.2 billion barrels.
Of these countries, Canada is our closest ally and our most important trading partner. It is also of the world's most stable democracies -- certainly more stable than Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Nigeria. The Office of Trade and Industry Statistics reports that U.S. exports to Canada in 2004 totaled $190.2 billion -- 23% of overall exports. Imports from Canada in 2004 totaled $255.9 billion, $44.8 billion being petroleum and natural gas.
In 1988, the USGS estimated with 95% certainty that ANWR holds about 5.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil. By comparison, the DoE reports that U.S. proven reserves total 21.9 billion barrels, most of which is easier to access than the oil under ANWR. Using data from Oil & Gas Journal, the DoE reports that Canada's reserves of 178.8 billion barrels are second only to Saudi Arabia's. To recap:
ANWR: 5.7 billion barrels
Canada: 178.8 billion barrels
Canada has 31 times the reserves of ANWR. One could conclude we will be increasing our imports of Canadian oil. That is unless...
Tomorrow: How drilling in ANWR will affect our relations with Canada.
Tommywonk thanks Bill Detwiler for providing the inspiration and a great deal of research and analysis for this series.


Blogger jason said...

Thanks for the post. Our system forces every issue into a boxing match of competing interest groups.

Clarity and reason get shoved to the side when one of those interest groups takes up residency in the west-wing of the White House. Then uses the full regalia of the Presidency to tirelessly promote the idea that drilling in ANWAR will solve all of our energy problems.

8:44 AM, November 09, 2005  

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