U.S. has significant economic interest in Arctic oil reserves
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The economic importance of the energy resources trapped under the Arctic seabed is difficult to overstate. In 2007, Alaska produced 722,000 barrels of oil per day.96 This is only a fraction of the state's 1988 production peak of 2,017,000 barrels of oil per day.97 Today, Alaskan oil production accounts for more than sixteen percent of all U.S. production; in 1988, it was more than a third. Natural gas is a significant energy resource in Alaska (433.5 billion cubic feet are marketed from Alaska per year) but contributes only 2.2% to the U.S. market.98 U.S. Arctic oil exploitation pales, however, in comparison with that of the other Arctic nations.99 Norway, for instance, has produced dramatically more oil from its Arctic sea beds than the United States has over similar periods. In 2007, Norway produced 2,564,884 barrels of oil per day compared to Alaska's mere 722,000 barrels per day; approximately 500,000 barrels per day more than Alaska's 1988 peak.100 The other Arctic nations each produce significant quantities of oil as well.101
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.