The Biz Flog – Oil in ANWR

Although media reports on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) usually contain majestic pictures of animals frolicking, few mention the financial benefits and public support for drilling there.

“[T]he 1.5-million-acre tip of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is critical for the health of an ancient caribou herd,” weatherman Sam Champion said on the May 6 “Good Morning America.”

“It’s a safe haven for calving every spring. The same area is valuable for another reason. Underneath it lies billions of barrels of crude oil, as of yet untapped. Oil companies say drilling can be done without danger, but environmentalists disagree. They think drilling would devastate the land and its wildlife,” said Champion.

The Biz Flog, the video blog of the Business & Media Institute, for July 16 focused on what it would take to drill in ANWR and how long it would take the financial benefits to get back to consumers.

According to the Energy Information Administration, it could take 10 years for ANWR oil to hit the market if drilling began in 2008. But experts are pushing ANWR as only one of many possible solutions.

Daniel Yergin of Cambridge Energy Research Associates told Tom Keene on Bloomberg’s “On the Economy” podcast July 1 that he thought an “ecumenical” approach was best, saying politicians can’t think that there is only one thing they can do to solve the problem of high oil prices. “Sorry it doesn’t work in a 14 trillion dollar economy like that,” he said.

“We do not think we can drill our way out of this problem,” said Cathy Landry, a spokeswoman for the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group. “It has to be a complete long term energy policy that includes conservation, that includes energy efficiency and that includes alternative energy sources. But it also needs to include domestic oil and gas drilling.”

But with gas prices setting record highs and an estimated 10 billion gallons of oil in ANWR, Americans may be looking to make drilling in ANWR one of those things.

A June 2008 poll from the Pew Research Center found that 50 percent of Americans favor allowing oil and natural gas drilling ANWR and 43 percent opposed it. In February 2008, only 42 percent favored drilling, with 50 percent opposed.