19 January 2008

Oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve

My uncle-in-law forwarded me this provocative piece of nonsense:

"A lot of folks can't understand how we came to have an oil shortage here in our country.
Well, there's a very simple answer.
Nobody bothered to check the oil.
We just didn't know we were getting low.
The reason for that is purely geographical.
Our OIL is located in Alaska, California, Coastal Florida, Coastal Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas
But Our DIPSTICKS are located in Washington , DC !!!
Any Questions ???"

Well, that made me check into my conventional liberal wisdom, and I came up with my typically wonkish rebuttal:

It's easy for folks to blow the type up to 40 points and color it, but it doesn't make the conclusion a "no-brainer". It makes it an "urban legend". But as always, don't take my word for it:

Wikipedia on "Peak Oil"
Wikipedia on Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve Controversy
Petroleum News on World Reserves
American University on Alaskan Reserves

From the above:
* Most optimistic world supply: ~75 yrs = 2300 Billion barrels / 30 Bb/yr
* Most optimistic supply in ANWR: 0.5 yr = 15 Billion barrels / 30 Bb/yr
30 Bb/yr worldwide is the current production rate, which could increase a bit if we invest in more capacity. But the world supply estimates have been constant since the 60's, so don't delude yourself about unknown supplies saving us. The projections include future discoveries using models based on experience.

So the Alaskan National Wildlife/Oil Reserve is pretty much a drop in the bucket on a global, or even national scale, since we consume much of the world's supply, or did until recent increases in China and India. And now Indians are making a $2500 car that many more can afford. That's about the price of a dual sequential gearbox for a VW, Audi, BMW!?

The naturalist/liberal prescription for the ANWR is then: "let's save it for a far rainier day than today." Damn, we're beginning to sound like conservatives, while the conservatives are dancing around the bonfire chanting "burn it, Burn It, BURN IT!"

It's a topsy turvey world!

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." -- Phillip K Dick

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