Tag Archives: ANWR

Obama Administration Energy Policy Missteps

Sometimes you can’t win for losing.   Or maybe it’s a case of no good deed goes unpunished.   Na….I think the guys advising Mr. Obama all have the same view of the energy world.   And it’s a dream world that looks past renewable energy shortcomings and exaggerates the shortcomings of fossil fuels.   Their rose colored glasses have made it difficult for them to see clearly.

The Obama administration has made a total mess of their energy policy….but they have been trying.

The administration is full of global climate change true believers. They have used the EPA to wage war on coal.   This has driven the cost of coal down….which has made it the fuel of choice in the developing world.   China has vaulted to the top of the world pollution statistics in large part because they use cheap coal energy.

To combat the problem (if cheap energy can be considered a problem), the administration, as a part of a 2009 stimulus package, threw money at a variety of alternate energy initiatives.    In September of 2011, the whole thing began to unravel when Solyndra filed for bankruptcy, taking over 500 million in federal loan guarantees with it.

April 20th, 2010 — A few months after the administration began supporting deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, BP made a total mess of things when the Deepwater Horizon blew up.

Mr. Obama then overreacted to the disaster, and played a bit of politics. The subsequent mess set back deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for years.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge probably has lots of oil under it.   And it’s pristine wilderness (as is most of Alaska).  Environmental groups have made drilling there politically impossible.  After years of study, the Administration has decided to allow drilling offshore near there in the Beaufort Sea.

There likely is lots of oil in the Beaufort Sea.   Shell has spent almost 5 billion dollars trying to figure out a good way to produce there.  2012 was not a good year for Shell.  Late summer ice in the Bering Sea, and a support ship arriving late virtually assured the fall drilling season would be a bust, but Shell tried.

When the abbreviated drilling season was over, things went from bad to worse when a tow line between a tug and the drill rig broke.  The rig drifted dangerously and was damaged when it became grounded.

The 2013 drill season was cancelled and the drill rig was sent to Asia for repairs.

ANWR is a safer and less expensive place to drill when compared to drilling in the Beaufort Sea.  Modern directional drilling virtually assures a very small footprint for the drilling operations at ANWR.  Oil field infrastructure is nearby at Deadhorse.  The Alaska Pipeline is running less than half full, and all the necessary transportation infrastructure alreadly exists at Valdez.

ANWR is the smart choice when choosing Alaska Arctic exploration.  The Administration tried to be a participant in the region while staying as far away from ANWR as possible.  So far, things haven’t worked well.

And then there was Keystone.   A few posts ago I detailed why the current policy relating to Keystone is flawed.   And then a runaway train accentuated my point.

If I were in the Obama administration, I’d be more than a bit demoralized.   Every attempt seems wrought with difficulties… and missteps seem to be standard operating procedure.

Oh, one more thought….Mr. Obama has been on the wrong side of the Natural Gas debate since he got elected.  Jobs, clean air, cheap energy, and good for the environment; natural gas is all of the above.   The administration is so preoccupied with “clean” energy that they missed the big clean fuel right in front of their noses.  Natural Gas.

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Shell Drilling Delays

Shell Oil, the British/Dutch oil conglomerate is going to drill in the Arctic this August.  It is big news up north. Today, July 27, 2012,  The Anchorage Daily News lead story was all about their project.

Shell leased the lands in the waning days of the Bush presidency and has spent 4 years and 4 billion dollars getting ready to drill in the Arctic off Alaska.   It was big news up here when the Obama administration allowed the project.  The Sierra Club and various environmental groups are understandably disappointed with Mr. Obama.

Every Shell misstep has made the news…and now the project is threatened by lingering ice along the coast in the Arctic.   Hmmm.   Don’t tell Al Gore…he predicted the Arctic would be ice free in Summer by 2015.

I’m not a big fan of Arctic offshore drilling…but I am pretty confident the feds and Shell are going to do a good job.  I’d rather see the onshore areas developed first…which, of course, means the third rail of environmental politics,  ANWR.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is an area of Northeast Alaska that is so large it is difficult to comprehend.   The picture above and the map below are both from the US Fish and Wildlife Site.

That’s a lot of wilderness.  The road shown on the western edge of the map is the only road from Fairbanks to the North Slope.   It is over 500 miles from Fairbanks to the coastal plane of the Refuge…and there is only one road….and it stops at Deadhorse (who said oil guys have no sense of humor), the town that supports the oil industry on the slope.

There is one North- South road and there are no East West roads that cross Alaska….the entire state with a few exceptions is wilderness.  The area that the oil interests would disturb is about the size of Manhattan Island….an island of development in all that wilderness.

I would prefer for ANWR to be developed now and the offshore properties later. I think the environmental risks are lower and the potential for success is higher when the drilling is done from an onshore location.  Unfortunately, that is a political impossibility…so I guess I’ll look and watch Shell drill…and hope they find something big.