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(Archived Apr 9, 2006)
 

Briefings on Arctic Refuge and Current North Slope Production and Pipeline Revenue Issues

As the attempt by drilling advocates to include drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the federal budget comes to a head, this parliamentary maneuver poses three critical numbers questions that Richard A. Fineberg addressed to members of Congress and their aides during a briefing in Washington September 14:

Could this measure, whose ostensible rationale for inclusion in the budget is to reduce the federal deficit (the actual purpose is to avoid the possibility of a filibuster in the Senate), actually increase that deficit?

Is the amount of oil that might be discovered and developed on the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain, which pales in comparison to the amount of imported oil the United States is on track to consume in coming decades, simply too small to have any material effect on the effort to reduce dependence on imported oil?

When the vast preponderance of the world's oil supplies lie beyond the borders of this nation (approximately two thirds of it beneath the deserts of the Middle East), do conservation and aggressive pursuit of alternative energy strategies offer a better course of action as petroleum prices rise due to tight supplies?

Because drilling advocates have tucked this major policy decision into the budget bill, the numbers in this briefing presentation assume increasing importance in this debate at the same time that normal deliberative procedures are being by-passed. It remains to be seen whether reason or politics will prevail (see Energy Experts Jump on Mountaineer But Get Their Numbers Wrong).

Four weeks later, Fineberg was invited to discuss Alaska North Slope development issues at the first People's Endowment Energy Seminar in Fairbanks. In that presentation, he spoke about various Alaska petroleum development issues - including the extraordinary profitability of Alaska North Slope and associated pipeline operations, Trans-Alaska Pipeline tariff (shipping charge) issues, tax issues and the proposal to build a natural gas line from Alaska's North Slope to commercial markets - as well as the Arctic Refuge controversy (see "Give Me A Break!" How State, Federal and Oil Industry Parties Derive Income from North Slope Crude Oil: An Independennt Estimate of 2005 Revenues and Implications for Public Policy).

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