On Thursday the Department of Interior granted Royal Dutch Shell approval of a plan to begin the process of drilling exploratory wells in the Arctic Ocean. The plan calls for Shell to begin drilling four wells in the Beaufort Sea off the North Slope of Alaska. 

This is a positive step forward that Interior has granted Shell the approval to move forward with deepwater drilling off the coast of Alaska. Access to affordable energy is critical to manufacturer global competiveness and vital to job creation. Manufacturers hope that the Department of Interior will move forward with additional permitting, not only for the Arctic Ocean, but also for deepwater drilling off the Gulf Coast.

Deepwater drilling provides a significant economic impact to the entire general economy as suppliers and others are impacted when permitting is stalled.  A recent study by Northern Economics and the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Institute of Social Economic Research estimates that as many as 91,500 new jobs would be created by Outer Continental Shelf related development and production in Alaska. The study also estimates that workers in Alaska will benefit with the addition of $62 billion to payrolls and workers in the rest of the U.S. will see $82 billion added to payrolls.  This statistic illustrates the ripple effect of how drilling in Alaska will impact the economy throughout the nation.

The bottom line is that additional deepwater drilling permitting is vital to our energy security and manufacturers’ global competiveness and job creation.