Alaska's NPRA Oil Reserves Estimate Lowered About 90% by USGS

alaska npra anwr map photo

Images: Both work of U.S. Government, public domain.

The National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPRA) is a piece of land owned by the United States federal government located west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). While it gets less press than ANWR, it is another target of the "drill baby drill!" crowd. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has just released a revised estimate on the amount of "undiscovered" oil and gas that is likely to be found in the area, and let's just say that it is a cold shower for fans of more drilling in Alaska.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates 896 million barrels of conventional, undiscovered oil and 53 trillion cubic feet of conventional, undiscovered non-associated gas within NPRA and adjacent state waters. The estimated volume of undiscovered oil is significantly lower than in 2002, when the USGS estimated there was 10.6 billion barrels of oil. The new estimate, roughly 10% of the 2002 estimate, is due primarily to the incorporation of new data from recent exploration drilling revealing gas occurrence rather than oil in much of NPRA.

Considering that the world consumption of oil has been hovering around 85 million barrels per day, and the U.S. represents about a quarter of that, there's only enough oil in NPRA to fuel the world for about 10-12 days, or the US for about 45 days.

The natural gas estimate also went down, though not as much as the one for oil:

The new assessment also indicates 8 trillion cubic feet less gas than the 2002 USGS estimate of 61 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, conventional, non-associated gas.

But even if the new estimates had be higher than the 2002 ones, it still wouldn't be a good idea to exploit yet more fossil fuels when we already have more than enough to destabilize our planet's climate.

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