Feds need to heed Alaskans about offshore oil and gas treasure

alaska dispatch newsAlaska Dispatch News | August 10, 2016 | Kara Moriarty

As U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Abigail Hopper visits our Alaska home this week, we welcome her, and invite her to take in the spectacular beauty for which our summers are known. But while she is here, we hope she will appreciate our efforts to keep our home dynamic and vibrant all year round. In particular, we hope she will see how the industry I represent supports our local communities and drives our state economy – contributions we here in Alaska see every day. but are often overlooked in the halls of Washington, D.C.

The oil and gas industry has contributed to Alaska for decades now, pumping billions into the state economy, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, and building critical infrastructure to benefit of all Alaskans.

The industry's work in Alaska has also benefited the Lower 48, especially the coastal states that depend on Alaska oil. Since the 1970s, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System has delivered oil from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, where it is then shipped to states like Washington and California, supplying the refineries there with American oil.

Today, however, California refineries receive oil from all over the globe, including Saudi Arabia and Iraq. More concerning for Alaskans, TAPS currently runs at a quarter of its maximum capacity, making it very challenging to operate without new oil production from the North Slope.

Fortunately, new production is achievable; we just experienced our first increase in production since 2002. In more good news, Alaska is not running out of oil, in fact, we have one-third of the nation's reserves, with the bulk of that potential in federal waters offshore. However, those great opportunities are in danger of never being realized.

Every five years, BOEM decides whether or not federal lands and waters are eligible for oil and gas lease sales, and right now, Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi Seas are in the crosshairs. There is talk, fueled by aggressive lobbying from extreme environmental organizations, that these areas may be excluded from the agency's forthcoming five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program. Taking oil and gas lease sales off the table for the next five years discourages significant industry investment in the offshore for the foreseeable future.

Read the full op-ed here.

Kara Moriarty is president and CEO of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association.

National Ocean Industries Association
1120 G Street, NW • Suite 900
Washington, DC 20005

Phone: 202.347.6900 | Email: media@nullnoia.org