President Bush Lifts Ban on Bristol Bay, Alaska Offshore Oil Exploration and Drilling

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The Bush administration recently announced that it has lifted a ban on offshore oil drilling in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The move is a shot in the arm for the Alaska oil and gas industry, which is hoping for approval to build a new natural gas pipeline. A recently elected oil-friendly governor, the pipeline project and now expanded offshore drilling possibilities mean increased demand for workers.

It is gratifying that the federal government is again looking north to Alaska to provide the energy our nation needs.

On January 9, 2007, the Bush administration lifted a long-standing moratorium on oil exploration in a 5.6 million acre area in the North Aleutian Basin of Alaska's Bristol Bay region. New Alaska Governor Sarah Palin welcomed the news that the moratorium has been lifted. The prospect of exploration in Bristol Bay coupled with the possibility of building a new natural gas pipeline means more jobs and revenue for the state.

"It is gratifying that the federal government is again looking north to Alaska to provide the energy our nation needs," Palin said. "Development in the Bristol Bay region could provide the jobs, economic diversification and energy the people of this region need. If we can be sure it will not threaten the fisheries that are the foundation of the region's economy and way of life, I'm all for it."

In 1988, oil companies paid the federal government approximately $96 million for rights to explore and develop 122,000 acres north of Unimak Island and the western end of the Alaska Peninsula. Before any wells could be drilled, though, Congress and President George H.W. Bush set forth moratoriums on the entire North Aleutian Basin following the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. The leases were bought back by the federal government.

In 1998, the moratorium on drilling in the area was extended through 2012 by President Bill Clinton. His order has now been eliminated by President Bush.

What does it mean? It means significant revenue for Alaska and oil companies plus new oil jobs.

"For several decades Alaska has provided nearly 20 percent of the United States' domestic supply of oil energy. Leasing in Bristol Bay could begin between 2010 and 2012. The jobs will follow quickly thereafter. It is big news, but I think Alaskans - and Canadians - are even more anxious to see what happens with the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline," says Kevin Lutgarten, Vice President of OilJobFinder.

The Alaska gas pipeline would run approximately 2,140 miles from Prudhoe Bay to Alberta, Canada. From there up to 4 billion cubic feet of Prudhoe Bay natural gas per day will enter the United States' existing pipeline infrastructure. Former Alaska governor Frank Murkowski had commented that the natural gas pipeline project will employ 9,300 people at its peak and require 54 million man hours to complete.

With the prospect of new oil exploration and drilling in the near future, as well as preparations for the natural gas pipeline, oil and gas employers are expected to encounter staffing shortfalls. The Bristol Bay drilling alone could amount to 11,500 new jobs according to the Minerals Management Service, which manages offshore drilling projects for the federal government. has quickly become a vital resource for oil job seekers and employers in search of qualified candidates.

Oil and gas companies working in Alaska are going to have their hands full when it comes to filling open jobs, especially if the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline is approved. We plan to help ease their pain. At OilJobFinder we leverage our more than 20 years of industry-specific employment research to build awareness of job opportunities and assist job seekers with industry facts and effective job search tools."

"Second, we connect employers and job seekers via a streamlined, web-based interface -- which is free," says Lutgarten. Petroleum industry employers and recruiters pay no fees to post jobs; therefore the value proposition is tremendous."

Bush's announcement concerning Bristol Bay came as OPEC accelerated plans to reduce oil supplies in order to boost sagging crude prices. The administration also moved to increase royalty rates by a third for ultra-deep-water oil and gas drilling just as the House is preparing to roll back oil industry tax breaks.

About OilJobFinder

OilJobFinder is a private company based in Seattle, Washington, and is a subsidiary of M&L Research, which has provided industry-specific employment research and staffing tools since 1986. The company provides OilCrewFinder, a free hiring solution, to oil and gas industry employers worldwide. OilCrewFinder provides free web-based recruiting software that allows employers to post open jobs and search detailed candidate profiles, including resumes and cover letters. Employers can preview and begin using OilCrewFinder by visiting

Contact OilJobFinder
Kevin Lutgarten
Vice President for Recruiting Solutions

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