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Big Oil May Finally Get to Drill in the Arctic, But Is It Worth It?

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Far above the Arctic Circle, one of the longest-running controversies in U.S. oil drilling is about to reignite.

Bouyed by Donald Trump’s election, Republicans are pushing to allow oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the frigid wilderness in northern Alaska that’s been a political battleground for drillers and conservationists for decades. The prospects for industry look better than they have in years, with Republicans in control of Congress and Trump vowing to boost U.S. energy production.

There’s just one catch. No one really knows how much oil actually lies beneath the refuge, or how much producers like Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips care about it in a world awash in cheap oil, from Texas shale to offshore Africa. While the government estimates the area could hold 12 billion barrels of crude, making it one of the biggest untapped reserves in the U.S., no one’s sunk a well there since the 1980s.

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Written by Alex Nussbaum for Bloomberg.com

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