To drill, or not to drill. That's the question that's been tossed around in Congress for the past 30 years. For Shell, Exxon, and the other Oil & Gas Majors, its a multi-billion dollar question. The United States Geological Survey has put the quantity of oil underneath the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) at around 10 billion barrels. Given that most of the areas oil would be pumped out around 2020-2040, and given the worst case scenario for the oil majors, that oil would produce at least $400B in revenues.
There are three things that determine the value of drilling in ANWR: the quantity of oil it holds, the cost of extracting it, and the expected price of oil.
All companies involved in the oil value chain would benefit. Oil has to be found, extracted, transported, refined, and transported again to where it can be sold.
The largest winners would be the Independent Oil & Gas companies and the Oil & Gas Majors that are able to find easily extractable reserves, as well as the oilfield services companies that they contract.
The actual output from oil wells in ANWR would be enough to decrease prices by at most a dollar a barrel. That kind of price change isn't enough to cause large changes. However, one of the primary political arguments for drilling in ANWR is that it would increase America's energy independence, the same argument used to support renewable energy. Therefore, legislative support for renewable energy grants and subsidies would fall. Does that matter, though?