Krauthammer overstated likely ANWR oil production

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

In his January 26 Washington Post column, "Energy Independence," Charles Krauthammer advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), asserting that the United States could extract "a million barrels a day from" ANWR. He added that, "[i]n tight markets, that makes a crucial difference." His claim recalled a Wall Street Journal editorial (subscription required) that, as Colorado Media Matters noted, stated that drilling for oil in ANWR would "result in an extra one million barrels a day."

However, as Media Matters for America has noted, in its 2006 Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) report, the Energy Information Administration concluded that, if ANWR had been opened for development in 2005, daily production would peak at 780,000 barrels per day in 2024, falling to 650,000 barrels per day by 2030. The 2006 AEO added that world oil costs would be reduced by "79 cents per barrel in 2024 (in 2004 dollars) when ANWR oil production is at its peak" if ANWR had been opened for drilling in 2005.

In his January 26 Washington Post column, Krauthammer wrote:

Even worse, the happy talk displaces any discussion about here-and-now measures that would have a rapid and revolutionary effect on oil consumption and dependence. No one talks about them because they have unhidden costs. Politicians hate unhidden costs.

There are three serious things we can do now: Tax gas. Drill in the Arctic. Go nuclear.


Second, immediate drilling to recover oil that is under U.S. control, namely in the Arctic and on the outer continental shelf. No one pretends that this fixes everything. But a million barrels a day from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is 5 percent of our consumption. In tight markets, that makes a crucial difference.

We will always need some oil. And the more of it that is ours, the better. It is tautological that nothing more directly reduces dependence on foreign oil than substituting domestic for foreign production. Yet ANWR is now so politically dead that the president did not even mention it in the State of the Union or in his energy address the next day.

Posted In
Environment & Science, Drilling
The Washington Post
Charles Krauthammer
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