Alaska’s oil and gas sector accounts for roughly one-third of all jobs in the state, including direct employment, contractors, and public sector jobs created through oil revenues. Oil was first discovered in Cook Inlet in the late 1950s, prior to statehood, and in Prudhoe Bay a decade later on a much larger scale. Production of North Slope is currently around 500,000 barrels per day. While a much smaller basin, Cook Inlet has provided relatively inexpensive natural gas to Southcentral Alaska as well as for export markets for decades.

The importance of oil and gas goes well beyond direct employment; taxes and royalties earned from the petroleum industry have historically funded as much as 92 percent of the state government’s annual unrestricted revenue. Oil taxes and royalties have also capitalized the Alaska Permanent Fund to help provide for the financial security and fiscal sustainability of future generations of Alaskans. Oil and gas will continue to play a vital role in Alaska’s economy for generations to come. Exploration on both the North Slope and in Cook Inlet is still active, and new fields will likely begin production in the coming years.