A calculated move on drilling in ANWR | AspenTimes.com

A calculated move on drilling in ANWR

Roger Marolt

Holy holes in the tundra! In my wildest dreams I could never have conjured that in all probability, as calculated by leading geophysicists, there are 10.3 billion, that’s billion, barrels of oil lying beneath the pristine lands of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. No wonder the president and Congress are hell-bent on passing legislation allowing exploration and drilling there. This is big!Do you realize how much oil that is?! There are about 42 gallons of oil per barrel. That crude oil can be refined to yield around 19.5 gallons of gasoline. The rest goes to produce other products such as jet fuel, tar and plastic beer cups. But let’s stick to gas for a moment. There are about 200 billion gallons of gasoline just waiting for us underneath the frozen tundra in ANWR. Wow!Assuming that the average American car can get 20 miles to a gallon of gas, the ANWR oil reserves can provide us with about 4 trillion miles of driving pleasure. As any middling astronomer could tell you, that’s about 800 round trips between here and the planet Pluto! Driving at an average of 75 mph, each of those trips would take 2.8 million years. Think about that! Are you starting to get the picture? There is a lot of oil up there in the barren lands of Alaska!Now, I know that to quite a few people in this town, numbers don’t mean much without a dollar sign in front of them. So, I’ll try to put this thing into perspective for those currency-focused folks.At an average retail price of $3 per gallon on those 200 billion gallons of gasoline, we’re talking about $6 billion in gross sales. Out of this the producers, refiners, transporters, marketers and retailers together (i.e. the oil companies) take out about 47.5 percent as profit. They stand to make $2.85 billion from ANWR, after all of their expenses, on just the gasoline! If you consider all petroleum products produced from that oil, profits could exceed $5 billion. Does that get your attention? Yowza!I am certain that most of you get it by now. But for the slowest among us who might still be having problems grasping the significance of these numbers, let me put it into the simplest mathematical terms known to the town of Aspen: 6 percent of the gross sales from the ANWR oil reserves is $720 million. Can you imagine scoring a commission like that?!Yeah, baby, these are huge numbers we’re throwing around now! We’re cookin’ with gas, so to speak. Look at a few more and you will clearly see why we need to drill for oil in ANWR.In the United States we consume about 21.9 million barrels of oil each and every day. That amounts to 8 billion barrels per year! So, you still don’t believe that we’re heading for an energy crisis? Come on, get real. We have to secure oil from every available source that we possibly can. There’s no other way for us to survive and be competitive in the world. We are only beginning to vie with China and many other emerging nations for the scarce amounts of crude still available.As many suggest, we could cut back on our oil needs by driving less, making our homes more energy efficient, and remodeling middle schools instead of tearing them down and rebuilding colossal multimillion-dollar monuments in their places. These conscientious acts would curb our demands and make drilling in ANWR less urgent. But why cut back when we don’t have to? By topping off our tanks now with ANWR oil, even though it will still remain fashionable to talk about preservation, attention to serious conservation efforts can be put off for years.The best part about the ANWR reserves is that they are right here underneath our own frozen soil. We don’t have to fight anyone for them. As wild as the animals are that call the refuge their natural habitat, they are not going to put up much of a fight when our machinery comes clanking and grinding across the permafrost. I know a lot of people are worried about destroying that pristine land up there for the sake of getting this oil. Honestly though, I’ve not even seen the place and probably never will. I personally know only one person on this entire planet who has seen it with his own eyes. He’s a writer and a mountain climber, so take that for what it’s worth. I bet you don’t have any plans to go see it soon, either. Besides, how badly could we foul it up? It’s not like we’re planning to turn the place into a resort or anything like that.Sure, we’ll probably have to bulldoze some roads through the mud, build some corrugated metal construction buildings, haul in some temporary shanties for the workers, lay some big pipe over the land, scrape off a few airplane landing strips, and put up lots of drilling rigs. We’ll undoubtedly make some noise and dust. Hell, I’m sure the animals will be a little scared for awhile until they get used to us, too. But, we’re talking about independence here – our independence!Let’s just look at this another way. Think about how all that oil up there in ANWR, underneath our own sacred U.S. soil, could help us out. Do you understand how many years of petro-liberty are ours for the picking up there? We have to do this for our children and grandchildren.Why, if you divide the total reserves up there by our annual consumption of oil, you can easily see that with all of that ANWR oil, we could survive worry free for about … let me just do the calculation … about … ah … is that right? Can’t be. Let me try again … ah, ah … damn calculator! … ah, ah … huh? … about a year and three months? Something’s wrong. There has to be more oil up there than just more than a one-year supply for our country. No fool in his right mind would destroy an irreplaceable wilderness for only that much oil. Roger Marolt believes that you can read all you want about ANWR, but if you don’t do the math you won’t know how little we have to gain from exploiting it. Drill him at roger@maroltllp.com

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