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Despite long-running political battle, industry interest in ANWR is weak

January 05, 2021

National Geographic:

THE END OF one of the greatest environmental battles in modern American history is near—and it could go either way.

On one side is the oil-friendly Trump Administration and the state of Alaska, which, along with a few native corporations on the North Slope, are heavily dependent on oil tax revenue. On the other are nearly all the major national environmental organizations, the Gwich’in people of Alaska and Canada, and, according to recent polls, the majority of Americans. At stake is nothing less than the crown jewel of American wilderness. 

If the state does spend $20 million acquiring ANWR leases—essentially going into the oil business itself—it would be a spectacularly poor investment, according to Tim Buckley, a former Citigroup director now with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Buckley has been tracking the financial and investment firms that have pledged to no longer invest in Arctic oil and gas projects. In one recent report, he calculated that Blackrock, the world’s largest fund manager with more than $7 trillion in assets, lost $90 billion from its oil and gas investments. In November, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink predicted a “tsunami of change” in asset reallocation, as investors flee fossil fuels.

“The economics are making the case,” says Buckley. “Exxon stock prices are down 40 percent when the market as a whole is up 15 percent, and renewables are up eight percent. When oil prices hit zero in April, they lost half of their market capitalization in just four months. And it wasn’t just Exxon. It was BP, Total, Chevron. Profitability just evaporated in huge swaths of the energy market.” 

[Joel Bourne]

More: This wilderness crown jewel is opening for oil drilling. Why is industry interest so weak?

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