While Congress just passed a new tax bill that opened up opportunities for commercial drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, there has been also an eye west of that area at the National Petroleum Reserve. A study issued by the U.S. Geological Survey now estimates the recoverable oil as 8.7 billion barrels (between 5 and 6 times the original estimate of 1.5 bbl, or billion barrels estimated just over a half decade ago). Meanwhile, another government agency, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, put out a new estimate for undiscovered oil in the Beaufort Sea that was higher than a couple years ago.
While politics may be suspect in an increase of reserves, it is said that new discoveries have changed our geologic knowledge, especially of the reserves in the Nanushuk and Torok geological formations. Time will tell if drilling begins how much of the increase is ‘new knowledge or not!