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Offshore Alaska Lease Sale Vital To Meeting America's Energy Needs

Alaska has enormous untapped oil and gas potential, especially in its offshore areas. The Chukchi Sea is widely considered to be one of the last energy frontiers.
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 07, 2008
At the lease sale in Anchorage, energy companies submitted a record number of bids - 667 altogether - for the right to search for oil and natural gas beneath the waters off the northern coast of Alaska. All told, these companies were prepared to spend $3.4 billion for the chance to look for domestic sources of energy.

Tom Fry, NOIA President, commented that, the number of bids and the high dollar amounts that were offered indicate that the oil and natural gas industry is confident that the Chukchi Sea offers tremendous potential for the production of energy.

The United States Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) holds 85.9 billion barrels of untapped oil and 419.9 trillion cubic feet of untapped natural gas, according to the Mineral Management Service (MMS). However, about 80 percent of these offshore areas are off-limits to oil and gas exploration.

Every day, the fraction of the OCS that is open to energy production generates 1.5 million barrels of oil, an amount equivalent to our imports from Saudi Arabia, explained Fry. This is accomplished with a safety and environmental track record that withstood even the devastating destruction of the hurricanes in 2005.

Alaska has enormous untapped oil and gas potential, especially in its offshore areas. The Chukchi Sea is widely considered to be one of the last energy frontiers. According to the MMS, the Chukchi holds about 15 billion/bbl of recoverable oil and 76 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas.

It is worth pointing out, said Fry, that the closest geographical bid submitted at this Lease Sale is 54 miles from shore.

As a country, we need ever more energy. The United States should certainly be developing renewable sources of energy, and we should also be safely developing domestic sources of oil and natural gas. Its not an either/or proposition, Fry argued.

In response to some criticisms that sought to delay or cancel the Lease Sale, Fry said, To get here today involved participating in a thorough, multi-year planning and evaluation process by the Minerals Management Service (MMS) and other federal regulatory agencies. Over that time, there were numerous environmental reviews and open periods of public comment. All sides were considered before this sale was originally scheduled, Fry pointed out. This sale was thoroughly vetted by all sides.

The National Ocean Industries Association is the only national trade association representing all segments of the offshore industry with an interest in the exploration and production of resources on the nations Outer Continental Shelf in an environmentally responsible manner. The NOIA membership comprises more than 300 companies engaged in numerous business activities ranging from producing to drilling, engineering to marine and air transport, offshore construction to equipment manufacture and supply, telecommunications to finance and insurance.

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