Alaskan Oil Boom

November 12, 1969

Report Outline
Problems in North Slope Development
Challenge of the Arctic Environment
Economic Importance of North Slope Oil

Problems in North Slope Development

Oil Bonanza on Arctic Shore of 49th State

A new Frontier is taking shape on the chill northern coast of Alaska, a few hundred miles from the North Pole. Here, in an area known as the North Slope, frostbitten oil crews are working around the clock to exploit what geologists predict will be one of the world's most significant oil discoveries. Implications of the strike are enormous, both for the world oil market and for development of the nation's 49th state.

The oil industry's confidence in the Slope's potential was indicated by the results of a lease sale Sept. 10, 1969, in which oil companies agreed to pay the state government more than $900 million for drilling rights on 450,858 acres of land in the vicinity of Prudhoe Bay, an area in which two companies had made major discoveries in 1968. Because of the furious competition for leases, which is expected to continue until a second lease sale is held in 1970 or 1971, oil companies have declined to announce results of their recent drilling activities. But estimates of 5 billion to 10 billion barrels of oil from the Prudhoe field alone and of 50 billion barrels from all Alaskan oil fields are generally considered conservative.

Despite the high costs of Arctic exploration for oil and the long distances to market, some economists believe a discovery of the size of the North Slope field will eventually drive down domestic prices of petroleum products and even enable American oil to compete with Middle East oil in some foreign markets. If the industry is successful in its efforts to establish a dependable tanker route through Arctic waters from Prudhoe to the U. S. East Coast, a major shift in East-West trade patterns is thought likely to result.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Jan. 04, 2008  Oil Jitters Updated
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Sep. 30, 2005  Domestic Energy Development
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Aug. 23, 1991  Oil Imports
Oct. 30, 1987  Persian Gulf Oil
Apr. 04, 1986  Oil Prices
Dec. 23, 1983  Quest for Energy Independence
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May 29, 1981  Western Oil Boom
Aug. 25, 1978  Oil Imports
Feb. 10, 1978  Oil Antitrust Action
Dec. 17, 1976  Alaskan Development
May 17, 1974  Arab Oil Money
Mar. 15, 1974  Oil Taxation
Jul. 18, 1973  Offshore Oil Search
Mar. 28, 1973  Persian Gulf Oil
Nov. 01, 1972  Gasoline Prices
Oct. 14, 1970  Fuel Shortages
Nov. 12, 1969  Alaskan Oil Boom
Dec. 11, 1968  Oil Shale Development
Oct. 26, 1960  World Oil Glut
Sep. 10, 1958  Middle East Oil
Oct. 30, 1951  Oil Nationalization
Aug. 11, 1950  Oil Imports
Apr. 23, 1947  Oil of the Middle East
Jan. 22, 1946  Offshore Oil
Mar. 09, 1944  Oil Supply
Dec. 24, 1935  Oil in World Politics
May 07, 1931  Control of Production in the Oil Industry
Mar. 27, 1929  The Oil Leasing Policy of the New Administration
Jun. 08, 1927  Oil Conservation and Stabilization
Feb. 08, 1926  The Mexican Land and Petroleum Laws
Apr. 18, 1925  The Price of Gasoline
Feb. 11, 1924  Background of the Oil Lease Cases
Sep. 01, 1923  Gasoline
Energy and the Environment
Land Resources and Property Rights
Oil and Natural Gas