Russia’s energy sense 34

From the Investor’s Business Daily:

Oil prices jumped to nearly $58 a barrel Thursday in Singapore in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Benchmark crude for June delivery was up $1.31 at $57.68 on expectations for a global economic recovery by year’s end and rising demand for the fossil fuel.

As oil prices rise again, the Guardian reports that Russia is planning a fleet of floating and submersible nuclear reactors to provide power for drilling and exploration for oil and natural gas in Arctic areas that Moscow claims as its own

A prototype floating nuclear power station being constructed at the SevMash shipyard in Severodvinsk is due to be completed next year. Four more 70-megawatt plants, each of which would consist of two reactors aboard giant steel platforms, are planned.

The self-propelled vessels would store their own waste and fuel and would need to be serviced only once every 12 to 14 years. Russia’s stimulus program for energy includes planned submersible nuclear-powered drilling rigs that could allow eight wells to be drilled at a time.

The U.S. Geological Survey believes the Arctic holds up to 25% of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas reserves, leading some experts to call the region the next Saudi Arabia. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin underscored that point at an April 14 Interior Department field hearing in Anchorage chaired by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Palin testified: “The world-class potential of Arctic Alaska was verified in the recently released Circum-Arctic Oil and Gas Assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey, which highlighted that Arctic Alaska was second only to the West Siberian Basin in total Arctic petroleum potential and the highest Arctic potential for oil.”

The Russians fully intend to develop the West Siberian Basin and any other Arctic areas their technology can reach. We may someday find ourselves importing Russian oil extracted off the Alaskan coast by Gazprom instead of Exxon or Shell.

As Palin pointed out to Salazar, the USGS assessment “estimates that Arctic Alaska has mean technically recoverable resources of approximately 30 billion barrels of oil, 6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids and 221 trillion cubic feet of conventional natural gas.”

Continued Arctic exploration is also necessary for the continued viability of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Production at Prudhoe Bay is in decline. North Slope production is one-third of its peak, and unless we are allowed to produce oil and gas from ANWR and in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Palin said, reduced flow will cause the pipeline to close.

The [US] administration’s game plan is to force energy prices to “skyrocket” to make alternative sources of energy more competitive. We don’t see the Russians dotting Siberia with wind turbines and solar panels. They recognize the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow.

Alaska’s environmentally friendly natural gas, according to the Energy Information Agency in its 2009 Energy Outlook, would lower the cost to consumers by 63 cents per thousand cubic feet in 2002.

The only way we might be able to get at these resources may be to sell Alaska back to the Russians.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, May 8, 2009

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