probably easy to believe that the debate over drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the central contention in the global oil market. After all, in this country, the debate is cast as the mother of all fights between environmental groups and oil industry supporters.
But as this nation continues its dithering--dithering, mind you, that could soon come to an end in Congress--the rest of the world is busy proposing and building projects of great scope. One, for example, would dwarf the trans-Alaska oil pipeline in length and would potentially export even more oil to the United States from a once-great rival, Russia.
And it's likely that the managers of the burgeoning, healthy Russian oil industry would all too happily deliver more of their oil to the insatiable oil consumers of this country. That country's oil production is occurring at a pace that exceeds the capacity of its present pipeline system, according to a mid-2004 assessment by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Energy. The EIA noted that oil production in Russia, which has the world's eighth-largest oil reserves and is the second-largest oil exporter, increased by 40 percent from 1998 to 2003.
Russia's capacity problem will change, however, through several projects, including a 2,500-mile trans-Siberian pipeline. Projections say the line could be operating in 10 years, although significant barriers must be cleared, and that the new Pacific Ocean port at its terminus could be used to not only serve Asian markets but also those in North America.
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