Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal published an important opinion piece highlighting yet another reason why Arctic offshore drilling is vital to the state of Alaska. The Trans Alaskan Pipeline System (TAPS) is in need of throughput, both now and in the future. Luckily, this problem could be easily fixed by an increase of offshore energy development in the Arctic. Thomas Barrett, a retired Coast Guard vice admiral and the current president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. (the company that operates TAPS) penned a compelling editorial piece that explained how important the Arctic leases are to the future of TAPS.
The pipeline was completed in 1977, and has an impressive track record. Not only does it provide jobs for the people of Alaska, but it also supplies energy to the Lower 48 states. The more oil TAPS is able to pump through its steel, the less energy America has to import, leading to more energy security for the nation. Those who had a hand in creating the pipeline are immensely proud of the project and the positive effects it has had on Alaska and America. Barrett proudly declares:
“As president of the Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., which was formed in 1970 to build and operate TAPS, I’ve seen firsthand how essential the pipeline is to Alaska’s economy. One-third of all jobs in the state are tied to the oil and gas industry, and oil companies are, by far, the largest contributors to state revenues.”
The Arctic leases currently in the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) drilling Plan have the potential to send millions of barrels oils through TAPS and fill the throughput void that has occurred in recent years. Barrett notes the long term affect this resource development could have on the pipeline:
“The Arctic offshore resource potential is enormous. The Interior Department estimates that Alaska’s Arctic offshore basins hold more than 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas—approximately one-third of the nation’s oil and gas reserves. Those resources could ensure a steady future supply of oil for TAPS. It is vital that the sales remain in the final program.”
TAPS plays a fundamental role in Alaska’s economy, and closing the pipeline due to a throughput shortage would be hugely damaging to the state. The administration should take Barrett’s advice when it finalizes the upcoming OCS plan and “consider what’s at stake.” Removing Arctic leases from the plan would be devastating to the future of TAPS, the state of Alaska, and American energy security.