U.S. stands to make hundreds of billions of dollars and create 55,000 new jobs a year from developing Arctic oil and gas resources
[ Page 8 ]
The potential implications of this extended continental shelf regime are profound. With one of the largest coastlines in the world, the United States is expected to have over 291,000 square miles of extended continental shelf.89 The U.S. continental margin off the coast of Alaska alone may extend to a minimum of 600 miles from the Alaskan baseline.90 Alaska’s extended continental shelf lies over the Arctic Alaska province, one of the many oil- and gas-rich basins in the Arctic.91 It is estimated that there may be almost 73 billion barrels of oil and oil-equivalent natural gas located in the Arctic Alaska province, the second highest estimated production capability of all Arctic provinces.92 The continental shelf within the 200-mile EEZ under the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas alone may have over 23 billion barrels of oil and 104 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.93 Not only would development of these resources promote energy independence, a U.S. national security objective,94 it would also create almost 55,000 jobs per year nationwide and generate over $193 billion in federal, state, and local revenue over a fifty-year period.95 Due to delays in Arctic oil and gas exploration in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, both within the U.S. 200-mile EEZ, the earliest estimated date of extraction is sometime after 2019.96
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Arctic region is the largest unexplored prospective area for petroleum remaining on earth with an estimated ninety billion barrels of undiscovered oil reserves, and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. In addition, the unpredictability of the Persian Gulf region makes the Arctic region even more attractive for exploitation.