Arctic Development Geofactsheet

Topics: Petroleum, Arctic Ocean, Chukchi Sea Pages: 3 (2314 words) Published: April 25, 2015
G eo Factsheet
www.curriculum-press.co.uk

Number 225

Development versus conservation
in Alaska’s Arctic wilderness:
the case of the oil and gas industry
Fig. 1 Oil prices 2006-08.

Introduction
The Arctic wilderness areas of Alaska are facing potential dramatic new changes as a result of the rising world price of oil and gas (Fig. 1). In Autumn 2003 the world price of standard crude oil was $25 per barrel. By July 2006 the price had risen to $75 per barrel but by late 2007 the price had rocketed to over $99 per barrel. These dramatic price rises have triggered a renewed search for ‘politically safe’ oil and gas deposits on US soil. These deposits would help to reduce the US dependence on imported oil and gas. Alaska is already an important oil producing area, from the oil wells on the North Slope region, centred on Prudhoe Bay. It is likely that there are further deposits in the area, although they would be expensive to extract and transport, but some drilling has already taken place. Now that world oil prices have risen so sharply there is renewed interest amongst the oil companies in further exploration in Alaska’s wilderness areas.

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100
95
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Dollars per barrel

80

The North Slope oil field lies close to the Arctic coast of Alaska. Nearby is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This is a 19 million acre expanse of wilderness in the north-east corner of Alaska (Fig. 2) It has been in the spotlight in recent years as the centre of a battle between conservationists and the oil and gas industry. However there is also a less well known but equally bitter battle between the oil and gas industry and conservationists in an area further west called the Western Arctic Reserve (WAR).

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Jan
2006

July
2006

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2007

July
2007

Fig. 2 Alaska’s oilfields.
North Slope
Oilfield
Prudhoe Bay

Key:
Western
Arctic
Reserve

Oil pipeline
Border USA/Canada
Arctic Circle

cle
c Cir
Arcti

WIldlife...
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