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prudhoe bay oil sales to china (none)

One of the nice things about having my blog on WordPress is the ability to see what searches bring people to my blog. From time to time, I’ll try to pluck out some search terms or phrases that I’m pretty sure weren’t satisfied by looking at my blog and see if I can’t provide more information. It won’t help the person who searched before, but it will help others later.

From the title of this post, you can tell that the search term I’m highlighting today is “prudhoe bay oil sales to china.” This is a variation of a question my library gets a lot. Especially these days.

The answer is that no oil from Alaska has been sold to China or any other foreign country since 2000. And none was sold outside the United States from 1973 to 1995. Between 1995 and 2000, no more than 7% of Alaska’s oil output was sold to Korea, Japan, China and some other countries. All of this is laid out in the Congressional Research Service (CRS) report:

RS22142
West Coast and Alaska Oil Exports
May 06, 2005

Here is the report summary so you can hear in CRS’s own words:

As a reaction to oil price and supply concerns, questions about the export of crude oil produced on Alaska’s North Slope are often directed at Members of Congress. The export of this oil had been prohibited by the 1973 law allowing the construction of the pipeline system now transporting oil to the ice-free, southern Alaska port of Valdez. But following a period of depressed oil prices, legislation was enacted in 1995 permitting export. Relatively small amounts — never more than 7% — of Alaskan crude were sold to Korea, Japan, China, and some other countries. These exports stopped by 2000. Currently, no crude is exported from the West Coast. Ownership of Alaskan oil fields has changed. BP Amoco and Arco merged in May 2000, and as part of this transaction, Arco’s one-third stake was sold to Phillips. BP Amoco is using the formerly exported crude in California refineries acquired in the Arco deal. And Phillips (now part of ConocoPhillips) exports no Alaskan oil and has said it has no plans to do so. The crude oil export issue keeps recurring, especially in West Coast states, where gasoline prices have been higher than in the rest of the nation. Concerns about exports contributing to regional fuel price differentials have been voiced, and opponents of oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) fear oil production from this environmentally sensitive area could be exported. This report will not be updated.

This would have been a good question for the reference service Government Information Online, which is staffed by trained government information specialists.

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