Trans-Alaska Pipeline:

Projections of Long-Term Viability Are Uncertain

RCED-93-69: Published: Apr 8, 1993. Publicly Released: May 12, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the reasonableness of the Department of Energy's (DOE): (1) minimum operating level estimate for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS); (2) economic model used to estimate oil production at the North Slope; and (3) estimate for oil field development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

GAO found that: (1) DOE could not precisely estimate the TAPS minimum operating level, shut-down level, or future oil production levels because it used an inappropriate economic model and failed to account for uncertainties involving key economic, geologic, engineering, and cost assumptions; (2) DOE reasonably estimated that development of a new North Slope oil field would take 10 to 12 years and that Congress would have to enact legislation before 1997 to keep TAPS operational; and (3) DOE plans to implement ANWR development in four phases, however, it needs to overcome federal, state, and local approval, permit requirements, litigation, varying weather conditions, engineering or construction challenges, and oil company responsiveness to develop these oil fields.

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