With the wild and spinning election cycle over, Alaska will no doubt be in the spotlight of Washington D.C. (or at least its resources). This is due to not only Senator Murkowski remaining as the Chair on the U.S. Senate committee, but also due to President Elect Trump having specifically mentioned energy resources in Alaska in terms of greater accessibility during the presidential campaign. With OPEC coming unglued (waning Saudi influence, Iran back on the crude supply market as a producer, Venezuela falling apart domestically,etc…) there will no doubt be a new oil market construct in the next several years. While predicting specific prices is near impossible, one thing is sure: there may be new opportunity for Alaskan energy both economically and politically.
ANWR and other petroleum reserves in the state have been political footballs of national players for the last couple decades due to the crude reserves yet left on the North Slope. This past administration has had extraction activity not active on these reserves, and regulations/litigation over touching them has been well entrenched. And ironically, the 2007 boom in oil prices pretty much over and the price at the pump for concerned consumers averaging as low as $1.87 in Oklahoma (and averaging $2.57 in Alaska) the national average price is back down to where it was a decade ago this month:
I think the gem that Alaska holds for affordable fuel for the future that is not laden with all the baggage which the North Slope petroleum reserves carry (and may arguably be a cleaner fuel to combust) is Methyl Hydrates. The abundance off the North Slope coast is vast, as far as supply of the raw resource is concerned. The main difficulty is safe/cost effective extraction. This BTU strong source is locked up in ice, and is volatile to remove due to phase changes that can quickly take place per the chemical state of the Hydrates.
Yet as firms’ R & D departments and universities work viable extraction methods, hopefully it will be kept on the forefront of Washington D.C.’s radar as a ‘clean’ alternative to Alaskan crude benefiting the country in terms of emissions, public perception, environmentalists concerns of animal impacts, and possibly even regulations.