Testimony of Rick Rogers, Executive Director
Friday, December 9, 2011
Good evening. My name is Rick Rogers, Executive Director of the Resource Development Council. RDC urges BOEM to move forward with a robust 2012-2017 offshore oil and gas leasing program, including lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, as well as Cook Inlet. These sales should be allowed while additional studies are conducted.
Given its potential for immense recoverable reserves and enormous economic benefits to the state and nation, the Alaska OCS should be opened to responsible development. The OCS has the potential to sharply increase throughput in the Trans Alaska pipeline, which is currently operating at one third capacity. Without new significant discoveries of oil, the pipeline could be uneconomic to operate at some point after 2020, leading to catastrophic implications for Alaska’s economy and Alaskans, who depend on good-paying jobs.
RDC supports offshore exploration in Alaska because it is confident operations can occur safely, and there are important distinctions between drilling in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the shallow waters offshore Alaska. I would like to point out that 30 wells have been drilled in the Beaufort and five in the Chukchi – all without incident, not to mention decades of responsible oil and gas exploration and production in Cook Inlet. These wells were drilled in the 1980s, utilizing older technology.
The responsible development of vast oil and gas deposits in the Arctic would significantly boost Alaska’s economy, create tens of thousands of jobs, improve the economic viability of the proposed natural gas pipeline, and reduce America’s reliance on foreign energy. It would also generate hundreds of billions of dollars in government revenues.
The Alaska OCS is an important future source of U.S. energy supply with an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas potentially in place. The potential reserves offshore Alaska is more than all the current total proven U.S. oil reserves.
RDC and many Alaskans share President Obama’s view that America needs to conserve more and put new emphasis on renewable and alternative energy. Yet America still needs to pursue new oil and gas production, given the fact it will take decades before renewable energy becomes a dominant energy source.
The U.S. needs to reduce its dependence on foreign oil. If we do not turn to the highly prospective opportunities like the Alaska OCS, then from where would new production come from? Oil imported from foreign countries is often produced with less care for the environment. Environmental, economic and geopolitical issues all favor oil produced here in the U.S.
RDC encourages BOEM to move forward with the proposed five-year program, including the Alaska lease sales. Thank you.