Big Oil Passes on ANWR

From Holden:

Major oil companies have decided that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge does not contain enough oil reserves to merit their time and money. Chimpy will try to push opening ANWR to oil exploration through congress anyway because a hollow victory over environmentalists is more improtant to him than good governance.

[I]f Mr. Bush’s drilling plan passes in Congress after what is expected to be a fierce fight, it may prove to be a triumph of politics over geology.

Once allied, the administration and the oil industry are now far apart on the issue. The major oil companies are largely uninterested in drilling in the refuge, skeptical about the potential there. Even the plan’s most optimistic backers agree that any oil from the refuge would meet only a tiny fraction of America’s needs


A Bush adviser says the major oil companies have a dimmer view of the refuge’s prospects than the administration does. “If the government gave them the leases for free they wouldn’t take them,” said the adviser, who would speak only anonymously because of his position. “No oil company really cares about ANWR,” the adviser said, using an acronym for the refuge, pronounced “an-war.”

Wayne Kelley, who worked in Alaska as a petroleum engineer for Halliburton, the oil services corporation, and is now managing director of RSK, an oil consulting company, said the refuge’s potential could “only be determined by drilling.”

“The enthusiasm of government officials about ANWR exceeds that of industry because oil companies are driven by market forces, investing resources in direct proportion to the economic potential, and the evidence so far about ANWR is not promising,” Mr. Kelley said.


“We’re leaving this to the American public to sort out,” said Ronnie Chappell, a BP spokesman, of the refuge. About a year ago, ConocoPhillips also stopped its financial support for Arctic Power, said Kristi A. DesJarlais, a company spokeswoman.

Ms. DesJarlais said her company had a “conceptual interest” in the refuge but “a more immediate interest in opportunities elsewhere.”

Other companies have taken similar positions. George L. Kirkland, an executive vice president of Chevron Texaco, said a still-banned section in the Gulf of Mexico, where the company has already drilled, was of more immediate interest. ExxonMobil also has shown little public enthusiasm for the refuge. Lee R. Raymond, the chairman and chief executive, said in an television interview last December, “I don’t know if there is anything in ANWR or not.”