It has been an eventful year for Arctic exploration – “may you live in interesting times” materialized, if you will. As 2015 comes to a close, we’d like to highlight the hard-fought advancements in Arctic exploration, research, and development. And while the activist theatrics we witnessed this year have dominated headlines and are sure to reappear in the years ahead, their unfounded fear-mongering is a mere footnote to the Arctic’s bright future: a future that is marked by significant investment and responsible development – and a source of pride for America.
A Year of Progress
Excessive regulations have repeatedly thwarted Arctic drilling, to no one’s benefit:
The American Arctic contains significant oil and gas resources that could be developed to bolster our nation’s long-term energy security, but in order for America to realize these benefits, production must commerce as soon as possible due to long lead times. Instead of encouraging Arctic development, however, the federal government has repeatedly thrown hurdles in industry’s way this year, to the detriment of local Alaskans as well as Americans all over the country. Continued over-regulation by the federal government will make life tougher for Alaskans, all while exacerbating infrastructural challenges in the Arctic and forgoing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide for a safer world for generations of Americans to come.
The oil and gas industry provides much-needed investment in Arctic research, infrastructure, and communities:
In addition to investing the most dollars into Arctic research, the oil and gas industry is also helping build the infrastructure Alaska needs for a bright economic future. At a time when experts agree that the U.S. lacks critical infrastructure in the Arctic, the equipment, resources, and capabilities brought to the region by industry benefit local communities, regional security, and search-and-rescue efforts.
Activists protesting Arctic drilling are not appreciated by local Alaskans:
When Native Alaskans and government agencies agree that Arctic drilling can be done safely and responsibly, activists have had to resort to extreme stunts and gimmicks, choreographed for media attention, to promote their campaign to ban Arctic oil and gas development. These antics are not only costly, leaving industry to pick up the bill, but they also distract from productive conversations about our nation’s energy future – and are altogether condemned by local Alaskans.
Hilcorp moves forward with Liberty Island project:
Houston-based Hilcorp is moving ahead with its Liberty Project off the Northern coast of Alaska. The company is still waiting for final government approvals, but the project is set to begin in the Beaufort Sea and includes a plan to construct a gravel island five miles off the coast. The company hopes federal regulators will sign off on the project by 2017 so that production can begin by 2020.
ConocoPhillips approves major Alaska project:
ConocoPhillips’ board authorized funding for the company’s $900 million project in Alaska’s North Slope, which was approved by the Army Corps of Engineers in January 2015. Production is expected to come online in 2018 and deliver 30,000 barrels of oil a day.
Shell leaves the door open:
Earlier this month, Shell announced that it is seeking to maintain ownership of its current leases in the Arctic, due to expire in 2017 and 2020, and thereby preserve its options for the future.
In this coming year, AEC anticipates an Arctic that will continue to strengthen America’s economy, reinforce our energy security, and diversify the world’s energy market. The Arctic represents a tremendous opportunity – not just for those who reside along the North Slope of Alaska, but for all Americans across the country. We look forward to continuing the dialogue on all things Arctic in the coming year – regulations, scientific advancements, energy exploration and development, both onshore and offshore. Here’s to an Arctic that is safer, better equipped, and more developed in 2016!