Energy Production

Alaska ranks second in oil production in the United States, outranked only by Texas. A total of 14 of the largest American oil fields and two of the largest natural gas fields are found on the Alaska North Slope.

Prudhoe Bay yields around 400,000 barrels a day, and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline is capable of pumping 2.1 million barrels of crude oil daily. The Alaskan ecosystems are still not completely recovered from the oil spill that occurred in 1989 when the Valdez, an oil tanker owned by Exxon, inadvertently spilled 260,000 barrels of oil into Prince William Sound. Because Alaska does not use all of the natural gas that is produced during oil production and there is no viable means of piping it into the American mainland, much of it is pumped back into the ground. In order to make use of this cheap and readily available natural gas, a number of petrochemical industries, which produce ammonia and urea fertilizer, have located in Alaska.

Some 50 hydroelectric plants supply the most heavily populated areas of Alaska with power. Around three-fifths of Alaska's energy is fueled by natural gas. Two-tenths of the energy requirement is met by petroleum and coal. In many isolated areas, diesel-fueled electric generators supply power. Renewable energy is replacing fossil fuels in some areas, and a geothermal plant has been built in Chena Hot Springs. Small wind farms have been set up in the rural areas of Healy and Kotzebue. Anchorage is home to one of the largest fuel cell systems in the United States.

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