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Oil as Alaskas Largest Natural Resource

Oil and Alaskas Natural Resources




Along with gold, fur, fishing, and mining, oil is one of the
biggest and most popular natural resources in Alaska. It has
become one of the major incomes in this society and is usually
looked over by most students when thinking about Alaskas
economy. It helps Alaskans to be more efficient and save money,
while benefitting the government, Alaskan natives, and the rest of
the United States. Many mistake it for a small side business or a
small development Alaska uses to gain a little extra money, when in
actuality it has helped Alaska become the wealthy state it is today.

In 1896 the first oil well was drilled in Cook Inlet (Southwest
of present day Anchorage) by oil explorers. Although they did find
copious amounts of oil, and harvested oil from this location for
many years, other wells were drilled in search for more oil. One day
the largest found oil field in North America was discovered. On
March 12, 1968, the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) discovered
oil in Prudhoe Bay, in the Northern Region of Alaska. However, the
production in Prudhoe didnt begin until June 20, 1977. Overtime,
slowly but surely, Prudhoe Bay went from producing
approximately one and a half million barrels of oil a day, falling to,
on average, about 943,000 barrels per day. From 1977 to 2005
there were eleven billion barrels of oil produced in Prudhoe Bay
alone. The entire field area for Prudhoe Bay is 213,543 acres!
Thats a lot of oil!

As for the economic development of oil, it makes up about
two thirds of Alaskas economy and profit. The other third is
based on basic day to - day work, salmon fishing, tourism, and
many more of Alaskas classic and well-known traits. Each year, the
state of Alaska gives approximately one thousand dollars to Alaska
residents from the enormous profit of the oil industry just for living
in Alaska! Its a way to give back to the people for living in the
northernmost state of the U.S. In 2012, the oil and gas industry
made the state of Alaska eight and a half billion dollars. Alaska has
earned over one hundred sixty-four billion dollars in the oil
industry since Alaskas statehood. As for people depending on oil
production, one third of Alaskas careers and/or jobs are
dependent on oil production and distribution. So now Alaska not
only benefits from the income of oil, but also depends on it for jobs
to pay two thirds of the people in Alaska.

Although the Alaskan oil production and distribution has
shown great success, it has also provided great loss. On March 24
th
,
1986, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spilled 260,000 to 750,000
barrels of oil into Prince William Sounds Bligh Reef. The spill had
an enormous negative impact on the wildlife of Alaska, nearly
effecting 253,000 animals by either death or serious injury. The
spill supposedly occurred to the fault a drunken captain, Captain
Joseph Hazelwood, the third mate not maneuvering the vessel
properly (possibly due to overworking or fatigue,) and the Exxon
Shipping Company (ESCO) for failing to provide a bigger work crew
to control the vessel. Some sources have stated that all safety
features were not functioning properly at the time, so it was not
entirely the crews fault for the accident. Most of the oil has been
cleaned up, but to this very day some is found in the ocean from the
spill.

Now the future for the oil industry isnt 100% clear.
Obviously, the oil in Prudhoe Bay will eventually run out. As of
today, only approximately 20% of the oil in Prudhoe Bay has been
harvested. So as of yet, we still have billions and billions of gallons
of oil to last us a few hundred more years. I believe by then either
we will have found another oil field to replace Prudhoe Bay, or that
we will find and even more efficient source of energy. I dont think
it is possible for oil to stay Alaskas main economic resource
forever, but I do believe that the longer the industry is in this high
of a place, the higher the value of the oil will go up, increasing the
profit of Alaskas oil. However, if the oil in Alaska does run out, and
there is no other efficient way to produce energy, Alaska could
become extremely poor and the economy could drop dramatically.
Either way, Alaska may eventually need to find a replacement for
the oil in Prudhoe Bay and other oil fields.

In conclusion, oil has impacted Alaska both negatively and
positively, but for the most part I believe it has become the greatest
thing Alaska has in its possession. Alaska has been blessed with its
copious amounts of oil and its people whom are willing to harvest
it. It has become such a change in our state, and it has changed
Alaska and its people forever.