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Alaska Is the Nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Says Governor

Hoping to lead the nation in greater exploitation of domestic energy resources, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell and state Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan Thursday touted a plan to tap the state's oil reserves and refill the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), with the hope of shipping 1 million b/d of oil on TAPS within a decade.

Much of the undeveloped acreage in the state's Central North Slope is to be made available in a lease sale this October, Sullivan said. The region holds 3-6 billion bbl of oil and 24-45 Tcf of natural gas, according to federal estimates of undiscovered, technically recoverable resources. The resources on state land include dozens of pools of conventional oil that range in size from 50 to 150 million bbl, tens of billions of bbl of heavy and viscous oil, and potentially enormous shale oil deposits, the governor's office said.

"For nearly 35 years, Alaska has been one of the most critical sources of domestic energy for American citizens, via the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline," Sullivan said. "More than 15 billion barrels of oil from Alaska's North Slope have been produced for the Lower 48 since TAPS' creation. "We are laying out a plan to enhance America's energy security by aggressively marketing additional state lands for development."

Sullivan said that in cases where state lands are abutting federal lands [the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR) and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)] where drilling is prohibited it would be legally possible for an operator to drill straight down on state land and tap the reservoir, even that underlying the federal lands. Directional drilling to target the reserves under federal lands would be illegal, though, he told reporters during a briefing in Washington, DC.

The governor's five-point plan for refilling TAPS calls for:

Parnell used the speaking opportunity to take a swipe at the Obama administration's plan to release 30 million bbl of oil over the next 30 days from the SPR to address supply disruptions from Libya. "This decision only provides the nation with 30 days of additional oil supply," Parnell said. "It will have no long-term impact. The real strategic petroleum reserve is Alaska, which has the potential to provide more than 30 billion bbl of oil over three decades.

"Developing Alaska's vast hydrocarbon resources will supply the nation with billions of barrels of domestic crude. It will provide tens of thousands of high-paying jobs, and it will generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue for the federal government. The right policy call for the nation is to develop Alaska's resources."

Parnell and Sullivan spoke during a briefing at the Institute for 21st Century Energy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC.

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