UAA Professor Urges Better Management of Oil Reserves

A University of Alaska professor says there’s a lot of value remaining in proven North Slope oil reserves, but the state needs to do a better job preparing for the future. UAA economics professor Scott Goldsmith gave a talk to the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday about the importance of the oil industry to the state’s economy. Goldsmith says 16 billion of the 20 to 21 billion barrels of known North Slope oil reserves has been produced. He says the remaining oil will likely be worth as much as what’s already been pumped due to higher oil prices.

Goldsmith says crude prices give Alaska another chance to a better job managing the state’s finite oil wealth. Goldsmith said state tax policy needs to reflect and balance different types of oil development.

Goldsmith says undefined quantities of oil on federal lands could significantly add to Alaska production, but tax revenue from those properties would be much less than development on state land. Goldsmith underscored the importance of oil to the state’s economy, saying half of Alaska’s jobs can be tied to oil development. He says state revenue from oil lightens the tax burden for other industries, and on individuals, who, in other states pay an average of $2,300 a year in state taxes.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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