Alaska's North Slope Oil Fields: Energy Asset or Defense Liability.
ARMY WAR COLL CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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Discovery of an oil bonanza under Alaskas North Slope offers the hope of some relief from dependence on foreign oil sources. At the same time, the vulnerability to hostile action of the oil fields, of the pipeline carrying crude oil to Valdez, and of the tankers shipping oil from Valdez to refineries suggests that reliance on oil from northern Alaska may be an Achilles heel strategically in time of war. The dilemma caused by the juxtaposition of these two factors was examined in this essay. Research was conducted through a review of the current literature. Present estimates of oil reserves under the North Slope lend credence to the belief that alaskan oil can provide a measure of self-sufficiency in oil reserves to the US. As such, these fields are of major strategic import. Difficulties include the isolation, terrain, and weather features associated with the area and the complexities in transporting supplies and materials to the North Slope and in getting crude oil from the wellheads to refineries. These problems also effect the capability of the US to safeguard the various installations in case of war, but the vital strategic significance of this oil mandates the utmost vigilance in its protection from all sources of attack. Author