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ANWR defeat stings SPI

On Dec. 21, a last-ditch effort to allow oil and gas drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) by attaching it to the 2006 defense budget failed when its supporters garnered only 57 of the 60 votes needed to end its filibuster in the U.S. Senate. Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) President Bill Carteaux called the arguments against ANWR development "mostly bogus-and they know it," in an SPI press release.

With oil and gas used as a feedstock for plastics as well as their impact on transportation and utility costs for manufacturers, Carteaux and SPI had lobbied for ANWR development, arguing that opening the strip of land in the northern reaches of Alaska could help reduce oil and gas prices in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that there are some 10.4 billion recoverable barrels of oil in ANWR, with a possible production output of 1.3 million barrels/day (global, daily oil production is around 100 million barrels). Most development has focused on oil development in the region, but there are significant projected levels of natural gas as well, with estimates for gas reserves in the nearby 23.3-million acre National Petroleum Reserve Alaska coming in at between 39.1 and 83.2 trillion cu ft.

Currently, since there is no pipeline to capture the natural gas and transport it, it is reinjected into the ground when it comes to the surface with oil. There has been off-and-on talk of harnessing the gas, initially focusing on a pipeline that would run down to the U.S. through Canada, although advances in liquid natural gas (LNG) technologies, where gas is cooled to a liquid state for transport via sea tanker, could be viable as well, but those discussions have ceased for now.

SPI has been present and vocal during energy debates on the Hill this year, if largely unsuccessful. On March 19, 2005, after arguing strongly in favor of the measure, it watched the proposed moratorium on natural gas development along the Outer Continental Shelf go down on a 262 to 157 vote in the House of Representatives. The proposal, which called for exploration of the underwater shelf that runs along the Atlantic Coast, drew the heaviest resistance from Florida''s legislative contingent, which said potential drilling platforms would only be 10 miles offshore-bad news for a state they say has had 77 million tourists since 2004.-Tony Deligio; [email protected]

TAGS: Business
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