Oil appears to be much like nuclear power. We could get the oil rolling in pretty quickly if it becomes a political priority (technologically it's not hard), but it's hard to say yet whether the American people have the will to do so. Maybe when gas gets up to $10/gallon, maybe before.
In Anchorage last month, Marilyn Crockett, executive director of the Alaska Oil & Gas Association, explained to me the following time frame for ANWR drilling: Expect 12 months or more for an Environmental Impact Statement after Congress approves drilling. And this is working fast. It would likely take much longer. Expect 12 months to 18 months for the Department of Interior to draw up and bid out the lease-sale process. Plan on two years for oil companies to do test drilling and analysis. Drilling and transport of heavy equipment can only be done in the winter months when the permafrost ground is solidly frozen, from December through April. Concurrently with oil drilling, a 75-mile pipeline spur needs be built to connect to the main Alyeska Pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to the Southern shipping port.
However, this time frame does not allow for environmental lawsuits "every step of the way," as Crockett warned. The rest of the 10-year time frame is to allow for lawsuits trying to prevent or harass production in one way or another. For example, a single judge in California's 9th circuit has failed to issue a decision on a Shell Oil project that already had $200 million of investment before it was ordered to stop. It will produce 30,000 barrels per day, about $1 billion per year of oil.
"The presentation or 'gift' of the Holy Ghost simply confers upon a man the right to receive at any time, when he is worthy of it and desires it, the power and light of truth of the Holy Ghost, although he may often be left to his own spirit and judgment." --Joseph F. Smith (manual, p. 69)
Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.