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Issue 7


During the last several months we have seen natural gas prices soar causing heating costs to set new modern day highs. Although North Dakotans didn't feel the pinch, electricity prices in many market places also increased dramatically to pay for the natural gas being used to generate electricity.

Sadly, we are looking at an approaching summer when gasoline prices are expected to increase to as much as $2.00 a gallon in many marketplaces, according to an April 11, story in U.S.A. Today. Some forecasters are predicting gasoline may even reach $3.00 per gallon in some limited areas across the country if "all the ifs go bad at the same time".

You may recall that the last issue of "Shareholder News" contained an article discussing supply and demand imbalance that has caused natural gas prices to increase this past winter. In this issue we discuss one item that could have an impact on natural gas and gasoline supplies in North Dakota for years to come.

Presently, some 17 million acres of northeastern Alaska are permanently off-limits to oil and gas exploration and production as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) regardless of the U.S. Geological Study that estimates as many as 16 billion barrels of oil could be recovered. This would be enough oil to replace our nation's imports from Saudi Arabia for some 30 years! Geologists also predict that large quantities of recoverable natural gas exist in Northern Alaska that could also help America solve its energy crisis.

It is important to understand that only the coastal plain of the ANWR - some 1.5 million acres -- will be open for oil and gas exploration and production activities. Should oil and gas be discovered in the coastal plain, it is estimated that only 2,000 acres of the entire study area will be affected. During the many years of developing oil and gas in the Arctic, methods have improved and new techniques have been discovered to do a better job with less land. If the giant Prudhoe Bay oilfield was discovered and developed using today's techniques, the arctic footprint would be 64 % smaller.

Presently, the USA imports about 58 % of daily petroleum needs. Bringing ANWR oil production into the lower 48 should reduce imports to about 50 %, still a significant quantity. For historical reference, you may recall that the energy crisis of the 1970's was triggered when the nation was importing only about 30- 35 % of its daily needs.

America also imports some 13 % of today's natural gas needs, and the majority of those imports come from Canada. Interestingly, Canada is currently exploring and developing wells in the Beaufort Sea just a little east of the ANWR.

There is no better time than right now to implement a national energy policy built around exploring and producing our nation's natural resources instead of importing energy to meet our needs. If you agree, contact your Senators and let them know your opinion.