Senate Budget Resolution Creates Pathway to Opening ANWR to Drilling!!!

Guest cheer-leading by David Middleton

U.S. Senate passes bill that offers a chance to open Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling

Author: Erica Martinson clock Updated: 3 days ago calendar Published 3 days ago

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate passed a budget resolution Thursday that could provide Alaska’s congressional delegation its best shot in four decades to open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.

The Senate voted 51-49 to pass the budget resolution, along party lines. Republicans defeated a Democratic amendment to strip the ANWR-allowing provision from the budget resolution, by a vote of 52-48.

It’s not a slam-dunk yet. But Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has been granted the opportunity to attach an ANWR drilling provision to a tax reform bill that is considered “must-pass” legislation if Republicans want to retain their control of Congress in 2018. That bill — known as “budget reconciliation” — will only require a simple 51-senator majority vote. House and Senate leaders have said they hope to pass tax legislation before the end of this year, though that may be an overly optimistic timeline.

The budget resolution passed Thursday instructs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to write legislation that raises $1 billion in federal revenue. The House passed a budget resolution earlier this month with a similar provision.

Opponents of Arctic drilling read between the lines and declared this a move that would allow that committee’s chairwoman, Murkowski, to open ANWR to drilling with a simple 51-senator majority vote.



Fracking awesome!!!

In addition to being a boon to the US Treasury, the development of ANWR, NPR-Alaska and the Beaufort and Chukchi OCS areas are critical to maintaining the operation of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) and avoiding the stranding of billions of barrels of crude oil.

The failure to open ANWR-1002 soon will eventually force the premature shutdown and dismantling of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS).

A premature end to TAPS would strand about 30 billion barrels of oil and 137 trillion cubic feet of natural gas under Alaska and its OCS (outer continental shelf).

• The Trans Alaska Pipeline System’s (TAPS) minimum flow rate of about 300,000 barrels of oil per day will be reached in 2025, absent new developments or reserves growth beyond the forecasted technically remaining reserves. An Alaska gas pipeline and gas sales from the Point Thomson field and the associated oil and condensate would provide another boost to oil production and extend the life ofTAPS for about one year to 2026. A shut down of TAPS would potentially strand about 1 billion barrels of oil reserves from the fields analyzed.

Page ix

• For the complete study interval from 2005 to 2050, the forecasts of economically recoverable oil and gas additions, including reserves growth in known fields, is 35 to 36 billion barrels of oil and 137 trillion cubic feet of gas. These optimistic estimates assume continued high oil and gas prices, stable fiscal policies, and all areas open for exploration and development. For this optimistic scenario, the productive life of the Alaska North Slope would be extended well beyond 2050 and could potentially result in the need to refurbish TAPS and add capacity to the gas pipeline.

• The forecasts become increasingly pessimistic if the assumptions are not met as illustrated by the following scenarios.

1. If the ANWR 1002 area is removed from consideration, the estimated economically recoverable oil is 29 to 30 billion barrels of oil and 135 trillion cubic feet of gas.

2. Removal of ANWR 1002 and the Chukchi Sea OCS results in a further reduction to 19 to 20 billion barrels of oil and 85 trillion cubic feet of gas.

3. Removal of ANWR 1002, Chukchi Sea OCS, and the Beaufort Sea OCS results in a reduction to 15 to 16 billion barrels of oil and 65 trillion cubic feet of gas.

4. Scenario 3 and no gas pipeline reduces the estimate to 9 to 10 billion barrels of oil (any gas discovered will likely remain stranded).

Some combination of these hypothetical scenarios is more likely to occur than the optimistic estimates.

Page viii

NETL, 2009


ANWR Area 1002 is a strip of barren coastal tundra right next door to the Prudhoe Bay complex. It would essentially be a “step-out” development. (Image from: US House Committee on Natural Resources)

Recent large discoveries on the North Slope can only be developed if TAPS remains operational.   The opening of ANWR Area 1002, is the fast track to keeping TAPS operational for the next 30-50 years.

115 thoughts on “Senate Budget Resolution Creates Pathway to Opening ANWR to Drilling!!!

    • Well that area 1002 looks just like the State of Delaware, which can fit in 12 non-overlapping places in ANWR.
      And Rhode Island can fit in 20 non-overlapping places in ANWR.

      Jan 2008 SciAm had a front cover article about a serious proposal to build a big solar cell array in the waste desert area of SoCal. The total area planned was 19.2 million acres. I think that just comes out at 30,000 squre miles which is also the size of ANWR.


  1. This is wrong. Global warming is hysteria. But drilling in the Arctic wildlife reserves is wrong. This sort of applause for something so plainly wrong gives skeptics a bad name.

      • Prudhoe Bay and points around there are a massive flat ugly muskeg mosquito ridden swamp. Sorry, but nothing pretty up there. Think of it as a great big flat green kitchen sponge, placed in the dirty brown water of a kitchen sink and tipped ever so slightly. The ocean is grey and dirty and ugly. Miles offshore the water can be only a few feet deep. That’s why polar bears can be filmed swimming miles from land; if they get tired, they stand up and walk home… seriously… It’s so inhospitable up there even the caribou stand on the elevated gravel roadways to get away from the bugs. Places where oil companies have built roadways have larger caribou herds…. again seriously… The place sucks. Work is good, but the place still sucks.

        When you see pictures of pristine, mountainous Alaska wilderness that CNN says is in danger, it isn’t on the North Slope. The place is the poster child for ugly wasteland. You want to drill? That’s the place to do it.

      • OK everybody be aware that there are those who pretend to be sympathetic to an idea in order to undermine opposition to an opposing idea. In other words, pretend to be a skeptic who wants to “keep it in the ground”. Make sense? Usually these kinds of comments are drive-bys with no attempt at further discussion

      • “It’s so inhospitable up there even the caribou stand on the elevated gravel roadways to get away from the bugs.”

        I saw a picture years ago of hundreds of caribou napping and sunning themselves on some kind of large, raised, oil-related pad. I’m certain they were loving the heat radiating from it.

    • Curious, why is drilling in the Arctic wildlife reserve wrong? What is it about this particular land that imbues it with the moral imperative that it must not be drilled? Especially since drilling for oil is a minimally destructive use of land? That is, when the drilling stops it is fairly low cost to return the land to a pristine state. Is an act of Congress (naming certain Federal Lands as “wildlife preserves”) sufficient to imbue land with that particular property?

        • ANWR is onshore… next door to Prudhoe Bay. Your comment just set the new standard for red herring fallacies.

      • Probably isn’t wrong so long as you keep BP out of it. Despite all of their recent ads on TV their safety record is abysmal. And typically, that attitude starts at the top and flows down through the organization.

    • They are talking about drilling on about 2,000 acres. There are shopping malls larger than that.

      When did you last visit ANWR ??


    • This is what happens when a person has opinions about things they know almost nothing about.

      The area 1002 coastal plain was carved out of the much larger ANWR wilderness area, exactly because it had oil & gas potential, and it was on the flat barren coastal plain. The topography is indistinguishable from the existing Prudhoe bay field. Prudhoe Bay is a shining example of how oil & gas can be extracted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. The footprint is minimized by placing multiple wellbores on small pads. The wells are then directionally drilled to the optimum downhole location. Since it’s development the Caribou herd has tripled in size. The regulations in Prudhoe are often more strict than they are in a national park.

      • Tom,
        everything you wrote I agree with except I would disagree with you on your last sentence. The regulations in Prudhoe are more strict because many more diverse minerals extraction activities are permitted there. A national park on the other hand does not require strict regulations on mineral extractions activities because none are permitted, including commercial logging.

    • When the Sierra Club and similar groups protest against drilling in ANWR, they generally show photographs of snow-capped mountains, which are part of ANWR, but also very misleading. The part of ANWR where oil drilling would be allowed is flat land, marshy and grassy in late spring and summer and frozen the rest of the year.

      For those worried about migration of caribou, the existing Trans Alaska Pipeline is frequently followed by migrating caribou, since the heat from the pipeline tends to melt nearby snow and make easier walking for the caribou in early spring. There is even one photo of a grizzly bear walking ON the pipeline itself. Wild animals up there are free to wander wherever they please, so maybe some of them like the pipeline!

    • It’s just “wrong”?
      It “feels wrong”?
      Why was it declared an “Arctic Wildlife Reserve” to begin with and who did it?
      This reminds of Bill Clinton declaring a section of Utah some kind of reserve. The area he declared a reserve (might not be the actual term used) made it off limits to mining.
      That area happens to encompass one of the three “cleanest” coal deposits on the planet.
      Of the other two, one is in Africa but impractical to mine. (I don’t know if it’s impractical due to logistics or politics in the area.) The other is in, I think, Indonesia. It is (was?) owned by the Lippo Group. Clinton donors.

      • PS Of course, it’s not always about the money. It can also be about another goal such as the ideology.

      • Yes and Billy Boy destroyed a whole industry of back country horse riding even though he “promised” horses would not be excluded, But then the BLM bureaucracy applied “heartbeat” rules. They destroyed a whole industry using bureaucratic over regulation.

        Now where have we heard that before?

        Wayne Delbeke, Endurance Rider.

      • Gunga Din,
        But the ideology might – possibly – lead to – for example – the money.


        Mods – careful – this might be /sarc
        Or /Follow the Dollars.

    • You have definitely never been there. In the summer you can’t breath without sucking in mosquitoes. The few moose there are miserable. I personally wouldn’t want to go back but i am too old anyway.

    • Why is it wrong? It can be done without harming anything.
      The destruction predicted for the North Slope never happened, in fact the wildlife is thriving in those areas where drilling and the pipeline are.

    • As David notes, it’s a barren area. We can’t save the entire planet from human encrouchment any more than we can stop the world from any other animal taking over an area. It’s impossible. We can save some areas—I would love to save a lot more than most—but it’s just not realistic. I researched ANWAR and there are no economics reasons to avoid drilling. So few people visit or work there. And, yes, it’s about money. It’s always about money.

    • Michel, the only thing wrong here is you. These areas were set aside for the purpose of producing oil and gas by the Eisenhower Administration back in the 1950s. The only reason why this has not happened is because far-left zombie zealots managed to get other far-left zombie zealots in Congress to vote to terminate the original intent – a crime of monstrous proportions. Hopefully justice will make the wrong a right.

    • Michel, David and Shoshin are correct about the nature of the Coastal Plain. When ANWR was created in 1980 the petroleum potential area of the Coastal Plain was designated as Area 1002, and it was so designated as to defer consideration of allowing oil and gas exploration & development & production in the area, which was an essential part of passing the bill. Although permanent roads would eventually be established in the Area 1002 the actual exploration would be by ice roads in the winter, with the additional bonus that the mosquitos are dormant.

    • Emotional response and claim.
      Irrational reason(s) implied, yet not documented.

      Common sense projects do not give skeptics a bad name.

      Emotional over reactions might give skeptics the same bad name as greenies regularly earn.

      Drilling and Fracking do not harm animals.
      Fossil fuel transportation accidents might harm a few animals; yet none of the species are threatened, at all.

      While Wind farms and Solar arrays are proven disasters to animals.

      Emotional hysteria, e.g. “so plainly wrong”, regarding the ANWR is incorrect at all levels.

    • Michel

      The ANWR is an area of over 30,000 square miles. . Why can’t people look at the project in perspective? An oil well in such a vast wilderness, would cover a miniscule area, and would have little or no impact whatsoever on the local environment In this massively inhospitable wasteland Even an oil spill, which we hope would never happen, would have no appreciable effect, and certainly no lasting effect, on the surrounding habitat. So let’s look at oil drilling not as a rogue project in competition with the wildlife of the area, but more as an important project that can operate alongside the wider habitat of the area with little detrimental effect. More importantly, as an engineering project that can contribute so massively to the US ailing economy.

  2. Personally, I think the Senators from New Jersey should get an expanded say in drilling in Alaska since they know so much about Prudhoe bay and all.
    Oh, wait, no. That’s not my opinion at all. My actual opinion is that the Federal Government ought to allow states to manage the Federal lands within their borders. That way California can choose whether to drill in California, and Alaska can make the same choices about Alaska.

  3. Now that we have untapped unlimited reserves in the Permian Basin Shale….YES! Let’s now allow the oil companies to drill in the most expensive location on the planet!!

    Our politicians are geniuses aren’t they!?!

    • The phrase “untapped unlimited reserves” is a three-part oxymoron. While the Permian Basin is huge, industry would show no interest in Alaska, if your comment reflected any semblance of reality.

      ‘Surprising’ Alaska oil-lease sale draws big bids

      Alex DeMarban Published December 14, 2016

      In the wake of two big oil discoveries in Alaska in the past year, exploration companies brushed aside concerns of low oil prices on Wednesday, bidding heavily in state and federal lease sales that were some of the largest in years.

      Officials used words like “outstanding” and “surprising” as the bids were opened in state sales held in the Robert B. Atwood Building in downtown Anchorage early Wednesday morning. High bids totaled $17.8 million on tracts covering 633,000 acres on the North Slope and in the coastal Beaufort Sea.

      Later in the day at the nearby federal building — where protesters held signs urging President Barack Obama to leave the oil in the ground — the Bureau of Land Management held what was the largest annual lease sale since 2004, when bids totaled $54 million.

      Offering land in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, the agency received 92 bids on 67 tracts, generating $18.8 million for 614,000 acres. The state receives half the revenue from the sale, or $9.4 million.

      In its 2015 lease sale, BLM received just six bids worth $789,000.



    • You seem to believe that expensive means uneconomical.
      If they couldn’t make money doing it, the oil companies would not bid for the rights to drill there.
      Please learn to think before posting.

      • MarkW – absolutely right. You shouldn’t even need to post such an obvious fact. How does an honest person not get this?

    • Um, nothing is unlimited, including sun and wind energy. Perhaps you don’t know what “unlimited” means?

    • Since the Federal Government is not paying for the development, the cost issue is strictly an economic issue best left to the private sector to decide. If it is too expensive to develop, then it will not be done. The worst people to decide an economic issue are brain-dead leftists ( I know the phrase “brain-dead leftists” is self redundant, but, hey).

    • ANWR Area 1002 was set up as a resource area. The portion of ANWR, south of the Brooks Range, where the wildlife is, was not.

  4. I had thought that there was a provision already agreed to that if the North Slope and protected areas were developed for oil and gas exploration, there was going to be more environmental oversight than the usual regulations in the lower 48. Things like more planning & horizontal drilling from centralized locations making surface disturbances much less. I don’t know if this was approved in the legislation or whether it was a wish list. I haven’t kept up on the latest. Is there any update on this aspect?

    • Oil companies already seem to plan and drill from centralized locations using horizontal drilling. It’s one of the things that made reaching some reserves economically feasible.

  5. The left-wing liberal democrats will block it no matter what,
    because like those insurance company ads, it’s what they do.

  6. But wait, all of the pictures of ANWR show beautiful mountains…..where there is no oil or interest in drilling.

  7. Doing on-site technical work, for more than 10 years, in Soviet Block petroleum fields … on several occasions, the Russians, Kazakhs, Ukrainians, etc would ask me/us why we in the States were so opposed to drilling in ANWR. The answer which seemed to be most acceptable to them was that we were self-loathing, utopia-pursuing primadonnas who, despite our overt greed for energy/oil, we were not so much interested in producing such in our own backyard. IOW, we would help the “Soviets” and then buy it from them.

    I always suspected that this was a primary reason why many of the Soviet types preferred doing business with Westerners [North Americans]: while they were interested primarily in finding/producing oil [and boosting their economy], we were interested primarily in “making a difference”; which in our case, was that we were there to “make a difference” by helping them get up to speed with leading-edge technology. Not many of the ex-pats understood that, in the final analysis, the locals there were our competition; however, most of the locals seemed to understand this quite clearly … where many of them tolerated our presence, just.

    All comes back to the same thing: either we, as a nation, need to stop using petroleum — that is to switch to a suitable alternatives by which we do not need to rely so much on international anti-American sources — or we need to go out there and compete by going after areas like ANWR, and etc, and remove much of the govt barriers to any and all potential reasonable alternative sources. [Note: for my vote, when I write, “remove much of the govt barriers” I mean to get the politically-motivated govt out of the way — and this included removing all those misguided and competition-killing subsidies — and to clear the way for private enterprise and their consumer base.]

    • Here’s what worries me: if we don’t authorize it, some powerful politician will sell those oil rights to a foreign nation. Don’t think it can happen? Consider what Hillary and Obama did with our uranium resources.
      Politicians are like prostitutes, except without integrity or any semblance of self-respect. They will sell us out to pad their own pockets. Better to enrich the states and their people than give away our assets to other countries.

  8. The biggest double-cross of the decade.
    A Battle Royale was going on in Washington DC over the Trans-Alaska pipeline and oil development in Alaska in general. A Grand Compromise was reached. Dems got their wildlife preserve (as they claimed they wanted) and the Repubs got area 1002 for oil and gas development.

    In the very next session of congress, Dems were able to add area 1002 to ANWR and halt all development. It was a massive double-cross and a huge slap to anyone who thought the Dems were negotiating in good faith. Ever since, they have done everything they could to block all oil and gas development. Failing that in any given case, they have endeavored to make things as expensive and difficult as possible via regulation.

    • For people like Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, it’s all in a days work… stopping Yucca Mtn after billions spent in NV and elsewhere in mountains of studies and warehouses to store the studies (alongside the Lost Ark no doubt) and the Pebble Mine Project.

    • I have watched Democrats renege on deals since the days of Tip O’Neal.
      Democrats never deal in good faith, it just isn’t in their nature.

      • I wish you were right in saying this only of Democrats. Unfortunately, consider the actions – not the promises – of the Republicans in control of Congress now. They lied to us to. McCain and Ryan show us what they really are. Easy to pass bills in both Houses when you know Obama will bail you out by vetoing your bill.

  9. It’s sad that 99 percent of Americans don’t bother to look on the Canadian side of the North Slope where there is a lot of oil development.

    • Not sure if it is still a requirement but it was at one point. Drilling a secondary blowout well was done as a preventative measure at the time of construction.

      • Relief wells are only drilled if there is a blowout. The US Federal offshore drilling requirement is that a secondary rig be available in case of a blowout. In the Gulf of Mexico, this is not a huge obstacle, because there are many rigs operating in the Gulf. Shell actually had to mobilize two rigs for its aborted Chukchi Sea drilling program a couple of years ago, in order to meet this bit of regulatory malfeasance.

    • Oh, they have brains, alright. Often very good ones. It’s just that it’s not their brains that they use to think with.

  10. An article from the WP giving the description behind the pathway to drilling. Susan Collins voted for the Amendment to kill the drilling. Of course the complaints from the normal environmental environmental groups as included in the article.

    “Today’s vote is a wakeup call for all Americans. Americans have fought for decades to protect this last remaining truly wild landscape, and are rallying today because they believe in taking action on climate change and want to defend the rights of the Native Gwich’in people,” said Adam Kolton, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League, in a statement. “Every member of Congress who supported this scheme, to hijack the budget process to do the bidding of oil companies, needs to hear loud and clear that we are determined to defend ‘America’s Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, offered a budget amendment that would have removed instructions to the panel to raise an additional $1 billion through federal leasing. It failed 48 to 52 on a largely party-line vote, with only Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) breaking ranks. Collins voted in favor of Cantwell’s amendment, while Manchin opposed it..’”

  11. David,
    You may have some contacts over at Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. that could provide some insight on whether opening Area 1002 will be enough in time to save TAPS. I understand now that the North Pole refinery is not reinjecting heat into the pipeline oil temps are close to minimums to keep it flowing. A few years ago they were expecting an imminent permanent shutdown due to the low temps. If temps of oil in the pipe fall low enough the oil can’t be pumped and the line will retire.

  12. I’ve been pushing for this for at least 37 years. Why aren’t they listening to me?

    I thought it was set aside for a future oil reserve, and they never came through…I hope this passes – I’ll give it a 20% chance…

  13. There’s a new generation of protesters just around the corner. The so called snowflakes and when they get going, they won’t he no snowflakes!! I don’t know how much you guys know about what’s going on in your colleges, but political correctness is moving to a whole new level. These kids are going to be militant about there fear of everything, particularly GW.
    So watch your backs, because denial will not be tolerated !!

    • It has been over a generation, but one summer we had a student go up somewhere in that area to help study fish coming upstream to spawn, something I did in Yellowstone in the Eisenhower years. We had one grizzly come by, but were in a cabin, they were issued a shotgun, one per tent. The one in her tent was not used, but another one of the group did. Better experience than summer computer camp.

      • I always thought it would make a good prison to move the Detainees from Gitmo to; you wouldn’t even have to build a wall around it. The guards could say “If you escape, don’t count on us coming to look for you, and there are animals out there that think you would be a fine meal”.

    • “How many people visit ANWR per year?”
      “Only a few hundred people visit ANWR each year….”

      And how many people actually live there?

    • It would be a good place for the next Democratic National Convention. They could show their true love of saving the planet. Of course they should go by dogsled to lessen their carbon footprint.

      It would give them a true picture of the “pristine wildlife reserve” which is NOT what they imagine it is.

      • Have the dogsleds drop them off then return home.
        The Democrats can use their cell phones to call for a ride when they are done.

    • I’m planning to! I have to buy a new motorcycle for the trip. The original goal was just to get to the Arctic Circle, but just a slight stretch, and Prudhoe Bay – and ANWR – and I’m there!
      Trying to talk my buddies into the trip, Said to be pretty hard on pretty, new bikes.

  14. Thank you President Trump for making this possible. After the oil company nationalizations by various countries, politically instigated oil embargo, price fixing and manipulation, America dreamed of becoming energy self sufficient only to have Obama put a quick stop (almost) to the goal. We now will have control of our own destiny and have the power to continue our growth and standard of living. This renewed oil exploration and gathering is tenuous at best though because the anti Capitalist cabal keeps doing everything in their power to stop it. Remember that at election time.

  15. When Alaska became a state, it was widely understood that Alaska would be run by Alaskans. This was done to appease the indigenous population which feared control from a very distant DC.

    Been down hill ever since.

    • For our none US readers (and, unfortunately, some of our younger US readers), Alaska and Hawaii were US territories. In 1959 they became “States”.
      And, yes, EW3, It’s been downhill for the rest of also.

  16. Considering that the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (NPRA green area on the left) would need transportation of the Petro, The TAPS viability is also a U.S. Federal issue, right?
    Is Canada using the TAPS to ship their Petro from the development just to the east in Beaufort Sea/Mackenzie delta?
    I know there has been a proposed Canadian pipeline, but really doesn’t it make more sense to pipe it 200 miles west to TAPS?

  17. From US History: The agreement was signed in March 1867 and transferred Alaska to the United States in return for a payment of $7.2 million, amounting to a price of about 2.5 cents per acre for an area twice the size of Texas.

    The treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate by a single vote.

    Criticism in the press was harsh, portraying the newly acquired wasteland as “Seward’s Folly,” It was not until the 1890s with the discovery of gold that public attitudes regarding Alaska began to change.
    2.5 cents per acre, And now oil.

  18. It’s not as simple as many like to think.

    Here’s the result of a study of Caribou calving grounds. Note that most calving takes place in area 1002:
    And musk oxen locations:
    The good news: the vast majority of recoverable resources is estimated to be in the “Undeformed” area of 1002, ie the northwest portion. This is not a heavy calving area.

    My sense (personally) — with care, the drilling can be done and provide great benefit without destroying the environment.

  19. The oil reserves in the designated development area ANWAR are considerable. Without them the existing pipeline would be underutilized as it is currently operating at one third capacity. The existing oil drilling has had zero negative effect on Caribou or any other wildlife. More importantly opening up this area for drilling will allow for the development of a pipeline that will give access to the huge underwater oil reserves in the Artic that are so coveted by the Russians. With these resources the US would dominate the oil markets and we would never again be held hostage to OPEC or any other country or group of countries. There are zero real objections possible on any wildlife or other grounds. These have all been debunked by the successful operation of the existing North Slope oil operations.

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