New Study Shows That Offshore Drilling Could Make Alaska the Eighth Largest Oil Producer in the World – Ahead of Libya and Nigeria

February 25, 2011 - 5:05 AM

Alaska oil rig

(AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – A new study says drilling on Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) could make Alaska the eighth largest oil resource province in the world -- ahead of Nigeria, Libya, Russia and Norway.

The report -- by the consulting firm Northern Economics and the University of Alaska-Anchorage’s Institute of Social and Economic Research -- says that developing Alaska’s OCS could produce almost 10 billion barrels of oil and 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, create around 55,000 new jobs and produce $145 billion in new payroll nationally, generating a total of $193 billion in government revenue through the year 2057.

A senior policy advisor with the American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for hundreds of U.S. oil and gas producers, said in a statement about the study that offshore drilling for oil and natural gas can help with the country’s energy and economic needs.

“America will need all forms of energy to get our economy back on track, and that includes oil – we can either produce it here and create more American jobs or import it and create jobs elsewhere,” Richard Ranger said. “The administration and Congress need to adopt an ‘all of the above’ energy approach that leverages our offshore resources in Alaska to create an energy plan for America that boosts, rather than inhibits, our economy.”

About 77 percent of world oil reserves are owned or controlled by national governments and the U.S. currently imports over 60 percent of its crude oil, according to API. The Northern Economics-University of Alaska study estimates that Arctic offshore development could cut U.S. imports by about 9 percent over 35 years.

Crude oil prices in New York broke through the $100-a-barrel threshold on Thursday, with rising prices linked to the unrest in the Middle East, including Libya and its vast oil reserves.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that U.S. pump prices for regular gasoline jumped 4 cents a gallon overnight to $3.23, an 8-cent-per-gallon increase in the past week and 55 cents more than a year ago.

“Given the current political turmoil in the Middle East and increased demand from a slowly growing economy, it is more essential now than ever before that we develop Alaska’s OCS to increase domestic production,” Ranger said. “Increased OCS production in Alaska would also extend the operating life of the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), a critical lifeline of domestic energy for America.”