ANWR Revisited

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Desertrat, Mar 14, 2005.

  1. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Sort of a seque from the Op/Ed News thread:

    Today's NYT had this from Int. Secy. Gale Norton

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/14/opinion/14norton.html?th

    Published: March 14, 2005

    Washington — Even though it is noon, the landscape is pitch black. The wind chill stands at 70 below zero. A lone man drives across a vast frozen plain on a road made of ice. He sits atop a large, bug-like machine with enormous wheels. He is heading for a spot on the tundra pinpointed by satellite imagery to explore for oil. When the spring thaw comes and the road melts, any evidence that a man or a machine ever crossed there will be gone.

    This is the world of Arctic energy exploration in the 21st century. It is as different from what oil exploration used to be as the compact supercomputers of today are different from the huge vacuum tube computers of the 1950s. Through the use of advanced technology, we have learned not only to get access to oil and gas reserves in Arctic environments but also to protect their ecosystems and wildlife.

    Technological advances in oil exploration are at the heart of a debate over America's energy future. Congress will soon decide whether to open up a sliver of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - called the 1002 area - to energy development. Opponents will pretend that new, less invasive technology doesn't exist. It is important for Americans to understand that it does, and that it works.

    In past decades, Arctic oil development involved huge amounts of equipment that had to be moved over gravel roads and laid upon large gravel pads. The machines that transported this equipment often scarred the land, especially in spring and summer.

    American ingenuity has tackled this problem. Today, oil exploration in the Arctic occurs only in the frozen winter. Workers build roads and platforms of ice to protect the soil and vegetation. Trucks with huge tires called rolligons distribute load weights over large areas of snow to minimize the impact on the tundra below.

    Meanwhile, innovations in platform development and directional drilling mean that we need fewer and smaller pads to tap into oil and gas reserves. From a single platform, we can explore an underground area nearly the size of the District of Columbia.

    Likewise, satellite infrared imaging helps energy companies to avoid key wildlife habitat and environmentally sensitive areas while 3-D seismic data imaging improves the chances of drilling a successful well by 50 percent, meaning fewer wells.

    Snipped by 'Rat

    In fact, legislation to open up the area passed last year by the House of Representatives laid down the strictest environmental standards ever applied to energy development and flatly stated that development must "result in no significant adverse effect on fish and wildlife, their habitat, subsistence resources, and the environment."

    (Small snip) If approved by Congress, the overall "footprint" of the equipment and facilities needed to develop the 1002 area would be restricted to 2,000 acres, an area about the size of a regional airport in a refuge the size of South Carolina.

    Snip. End.

    I snipped the puffery stuff.

    I've read of the "rolligons"; that the work effort is to be in winter is new to me. We used the infra-red satellite imagery in an environmental-protection study in 1977 when I worked with the Coastal Zone Managment Program, and I'd bet the capabilities have improved in 28 years. The space requirements as to acreage seem in line with what I've said here in earlier posts about ANWR drilling/development.

    Some stuff coming out of the administration is believable...

    'Rat
     
  2. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #2
    I suppose the drilling platforms will disappear in the spring/summer and the oil will magically transport itself out of the area too?
     
  3. Mav451 macrumors 68000

    Mav451

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    QFT and emphasis.

    The 2000 acres thing is bogus too. I know they're going to use more than that, so the Administration mine as well SAY that they're going to need more. Truth hurts, but better to be truth than lies. 2000 acres? More like tens of thousands. Just say it.
     
  4. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #4
    FWIW, I'm putting a visit to ANWR on my list of vactions to-do in the next two years.
     
  5. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #5
    a few years ago, a read an article that detailed a new way of calculating footprint -- instead of calc'ing the area covered, it was only the ground physically touched by equipment supports. sort of like saying that my car takes up only 4 square feet of space.

    apologies that i do not recall the source.
     
  6. brap macrumors 68000

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    #6
    Wow. Just, wow.

    "Yeah, the opposition. They're liars, and I'm not." Brash and unashamed... :eek:
     
  7. Mav451 macrumors 68000

    Mav451

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    #7
    From an engineering standpoint, how the hell do you move/process oil, without much of a distraction? Underground? Overground?

    Is there such thing as a "pristine" dig?
    Can the damage done from area clearance be reversed?
     
  8. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #8
    Gale Norton, attorney for the Mountain States Legal Foundation, lobbyist for National Lead. Been pushing for drilling in ANWR for 20 years. Apparently never met an environmental regulation she favored. Role model and mentor: James Watt. Give me one reason to trust her opinion on the environmental impacts of oil production in ANWR.
     
  9. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #9
    The catch is apparently that the 2000 acres doesn't have to be contiguous in any fashion. So, an acre here, and acre there and suddenly your 2000 acres is spread around 2000 sq miles.

    And if they really are allowed to use only the area of the footprint of the equipment in calculating how many acres a particular facility uses then 2000 acres would be an extremely low-balled number. Some people might even call that a snow job...
     
  10. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #10
    The major impact, SFAIK, will be the drilling sites and the pipeline route. No doubt about that. But there will be fewer sites for a given number of holes. Developing the sites during the winter means much less impact between the drill sites.

    Stipulating that the "rolligons" are effective, there will be a much less "impactive" roadway along the above-ground pipeline.

    I imagine that as with the present North Slope system, most of the resupply of the drill sites will be in summertime, via ship.

    Nobody's saying that there will be no negative impact. What's said is that there will be much less than from the original North Slope activities. Further, the whole scheme has a restoration effort built in from the start. Restoration won't be easy; the area is essentially a desert. Little precipitation and a very short growing season.

    Has anybody seen a proposed map of the pipeline route? Any idea of the length?

    'Rat
     
  11. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #11
    [​IMG]

    The area we're talking about looks like this:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I think it's beautiful and I'm looking forward to visiting someday soon.

    source
     
  12. benpatient macrumors 68000

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    #12
    That woman is an expert at making murder and systematic poisoning sound politically correct. That is her job. The devil is supposedly a pretty smooth talker, too...that doesn't mean you should trust him.

    Destroying that environment won't even fix out problem. It will delay the inevitable a few years. That is all.

    I hope you all realize that, as pubic lands, the oil that is in ANWR is partially yours and mine. If you think Exxon is going to pay YOU for your share of the profits, think again.

    They are stalling because they know that renewable energy is thoroughly possible, and because they know it is also thoroughly decentralized in nature. When the energy co-op revolution happens, we won't need BP anymore. They will become invalid. So spending a few million dollars "talking" to our elected officials every year is a pretty good use of their (our) money.

    Heck, a 2 cents per gallon increase in gas prices for a couple months funds their entire lobbying effort for a year!
     
  13. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #13
    thanks, pseudobrit.

    So the drill area, apparently, is in that yellow zone north of the word "area"? And that area is some 1.5 million acres?

    Been thinking a bit about this "2,000 acres". I know it's no problem to get all the equipment in place for a 10,000' to 14,000' deep well on less than an acre. That's with no protective buildings, of course. I dunno. Take a guess at a max of ten acres for a multi-hole Arctic drillsite. Any info out there as to a guesstimate of the number of drillsites?

    Pipeline: Well, four- or five-foot (?) diameter pipe plus service road alongside. 30 feet? An acre is 208 feet on a side. So, 1,456 feet of route per acre used. Call it a quarter-mile, instead. So, four acres per mile of route. Ignoring drill sites, 2,000 acres means up to 500 miles of line.

    So: As for truth-telling about impacts, first off I'd think there must be some sort of summer-traversible road, since I don't believe they expect no maintenance during summer--and that's when the ground is boggy. The caveat is whether these rolligons can traverse muskeg with no improved roadway.

    Next would be the need for more specifics about the pipeline itself. Length, for one thing. After that, there is the question of the number of drill sites and the acreage actually used for each one.

    I haven't yet looked: Is there somewhere on the Web with that sort of info?

    I don't believe anybody thinks that ANWR or other proposed drilling areas are any sort of panacea. It seems to me that the oil would provide some interim support for "the way we are" as we bring other energy and transportation methodologies on line.

    Think for a moment: Only 40% to 45% of all crude oil is used as transportation fuel, yet none of the rest of the barrel is wasted. That is, 55% to 60% of all oil is feedstock for everything from asphalt on up into the realm of consumer products that are of worldwide use.

    Oil and natural gas are just too damned precious to be wasted on generating electricity. Nukes are political in the US, but not in China, Japan, Canada and Europe. Windpower is clean but not cost-competitive, although west Texas must have around a thousand of them built here in the last few years. Coal is a dirty source for electric generating, no matter how much money is spent on scrubbers--but coal is also a source for gasoline when the price of crude rises not much above today's spot prices. It's possible that the price of hybrid cars and fuel-cell cars will drop as the number per year of production does increase; recall the initial costs of desktop computers and FAX machines...

    A time of transition and change is never easy. And the time rate of change keeps accelerating, which is a bitch-kitty.

    In 1890, my not-yet great-uncles cowboyed for the XIT ranch, and my not-yet grandfather was a "horse boy" as the local German farmers around his part of Texas herded their cattle to winter graze on the TExas coast. They learned to crank Model T Fords. My mother learned of the advantage of the self-starter on a car. I was born in 1934, when trains could go faster than commercial aviation. For a Boy Scout project in 1946, I build a whisker-and-crystal radio. Polio was a helluva problem.

    And along came electric calculators and cash registers and automatic transmissions and automobiles with A/C instead of a gizmo in the passenger window into which you put ice. And, hey, TV! Jack Paar!

    And now we're getting into you young folks realms of memory...Computers and cell phones with pictures, just like Dick Tracy had. And smart bombs and remotely-controlled drones. And "alternative" energy and suchlike.

    But horse-drawn wagons were still common, twenty-some years after the mass production of automobiles began. Transition.

    Sorry about the length of all this rambling...

    'Rat
     
  14. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #14
    The area within the 1002 zone currently on the slate for drilling is NW of the "1" in "1002" on the map.

    As you can see, there are no other areas in the arctic like this, with the mountains and foothills so close to the coast that the coastal plain is just a sliver.

    The pipeline would need to be a minimum 70-100 miles long to reach the TAP with possible extensions to reach additional promising sites stretching it out to around 200 (once it's built I imagine it'd be much easier for the oil trusts to "grow" it a few miles east).

    The pipeline is 48 inches and service roads are 28 ft., but based on photos I would reckon total area impacted would average 35 feet across.

    As you can see here, the engineering that went into the TAP is an impressive testament to the technical ingenuity of man.

    But in no way is it treading lightly on the Alaskan landscape. Massive concrete supports must be poured or buried, refrigeration stations must pump brine into certain buried sections to keep them frozen. Service roads are 3' thick with gravel. This pipeline will forever scar the pristine coastal plains and foothills of the Wildlife Preserve.
     
  15. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #15
    Pipelines are elevated off the ground in these situations, no?

    And if they are, I'd expect only the pads that support it to be counted towards the 2000 acres.

    That's if the definition of what's included in the 200 acres to begin with. I wouldn't put it past anyone to define items that count towards the 2000 acre cap to be only drilling-related items. Pipelines and roadways may not even end up counting. I dunno, I'm just exercising my skepticism bone here, but if the people writing the legislation are taking money from the energy companys (which they are) and writing the legislation in secret (which they have/will) and topping that off with a release of the 1000+ page bill with an under 24-hour call for a vote followed by an extended roll call for arm twisting (which they have repeatedly done) I expect something that benefits industry in every way possible.

    The devil's in the details.
     
  16. mischief macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #16
    *(Plants tongue firmy in cheek and flicks the switch on the Irony light)*

    Gee, you make it sound as if our little hegemony of Gvt. officials act not in the interest of The People but solely in the interests of a de-facto elite. Wouldn't that be a serious breach of both ethics and their oaths of office?

    No? Why ever not??!!??

    Oh, right... that same de-facto elite of fat white business men wrote the core documents and occupied those same Gvt. offices in the first place. My bad.

    This country never had a chance at democracy. An oligarchic republic is all it will ever be until there is a popular uprising.

    In light of that: why is there all this fuss over ANWR? Those Cariboo can't vote and they're too far away from everything for there to be much tourism revenue. :rolleyes:

    ;)
     
  17. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #17
    "Massive concrete supports must be poured or buried, refrigeration stations must pump brine into certain buried sections to keep them frozen."

    It seems to me that using brine would be inhibitory to regrowth of tundra after the pipeline is removed.

    "Service roads are 3' thick with gravel."

    I suspect the "rolligon" deal is part of an effort to not need this sort of roadway, including the comments about only doing construction work during the time of frozen surface.

    However, I can see a problem based upon my own experience here in Terlingua. Much of my floodplain land is clay. When it's wet, you can forget two-wheel drive. Muckery. Goo. Down to the axles in a heartbeat.

    So, I chain the dumpgate on my truck and drive along spreading creekbed gravel to "pave" my roads. One stretch of about a third of a mile now has some five to six courses of gravel laid on, over some twenty years. That's over two feet of gravel. Still, the surface of the road is a tad below the level of the surrounding ground. The gravel just keeps on being pushed down as it's driven on during wet weather.

    Pipeline maintenance must be done as needed, whether during the time of freeze-up--or during the Alaskan summer, as short as that is. Road work during the life of the project will be needed...

    Probably wind up being tour-guide opportunities for the Alaskan Indians.

    'Rat
     
  18. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #18
    Senate Votes to Allow Drilling in Arctic Reserve

    link

     

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