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U.S. Senate Panel Votes To Open Alaskan Refuge To Drilling

The U.S. Senate energy and natural resources panel voted to open a portion of an Alaskan wildlife refuge to allow oil drilling on Wednesday, angering conservationists who had fought to save the area from fossil fuel interests.

The committee voted 13-10 to allow drilling in the coveted natural reserves.

Reuters reports that Republicans have tried to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling for some time now. The area in question is known by the numerical name 1002 and is located in the north.

Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski, who heads the energy committee, said drilling the area would boost jobs in the area and increase national natural resources.  Murkowski also said drilling in the area would be done “the right way.”

Former officials from the U.S. Department of Interior have said developing the area would be risky and expensive.  Five of them wrote a letter to the committee outlining their concerns about exposing the area to oil interests.

“We don’t need to develop the Arctic Refuge – one of the costliest, and riskiest places to develop energy resources – to promote American energy security,” Steve Williams, who served as the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Republican former President George W. Bush, said.

Related: China Resumes Oil Hoarding Despite Higher Prices

The measure to open the area for drilling still needs to pass a vote by the entire Senate. It will be attached to the upcoming tax reform bill, which needs 50 votes to become law.

In other news from the northernmost state, Alaska inked a deal with China’s Sinopec to explore a major natural gas pipeline project that would traverse the entire state, bringing natural gas from the North Slope to Alaska’s southern coast for export. The agreement is non-binding, but Alaska’s governor hopes to sign a more formal agreement by the end of next year.

Alaska produces around 600,000 bpd of crude oil, a far cry from the peak of 2 million bpd that it hit in 1988. Prudhoe Bay is among the largest oil fields in the United States, producing a total 12.5 billion barrels over the four decades of its operation so far.

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By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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  • Raul Vargas on November 16 2017 said:
    Why open up Alaskan refuge when shale is so prosperous and plentiful? Doesn't make sense does it. The shale cover-up continues.

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