- Petroleum exploration in the Arctic
The exploration of the
Arcticfor petroleumis more technically and physically challenging than for any other environment. However, with increases in technology and continuing high oil prices the region is now receiving the interest of the petroleum industry.
There are 19 geological basins making up the Arctic region. Some of these basins have experienced oil and gas exploration, most notably the
Alaska North Slopewhere oil was first produced in 1968 from Prudhoe Bay. However, only half the basins - such as the Beaufort Seaand the West Barents Sea- have been explored. Estimates for Arctic oil and gas reserves are 400 billion BOE, of which 233 billion have been discovered, with a further 166 billion yet to be found.Fact|date=April 2007 These numbers are only for the oil thought to be in place and not the recoverable reserves. The undiscovered reserves are thought to be predominately gas-prone which makes commercialization of these reserves difficult as they are located in such remote areas.
Of the 19 basins, 10 have yet to be actively explored. A recent study carried out by
Wood Mackenzieon the Arctic potential comments that the likely remaining reserves will be 75% natural gas and 25% oil. It highlights four basins that are likely to be the focus of the petroleum industry in the upcoming years: the Kronprins Christian, which is likely to have large reserves, the southwest Greenlandbasin, due to its proximity to markets, and the more oil-prone basins of Laptev and Baffin Bay.
June 2007,a group of Russian geologists returned from a six-week voyage on a nuclear icebreaker. They had travelled to the Lomonosovridge, an underwater shelf in Russia's remote and inhospitable eastern Arctic Ocean.
According to Russia's media, the geologists returned with the "sensational news" that the Lomonosov ridge was linked to
Russian Federationterritory, boosting Russia's claim over the oil-and-gas rich triangle. The territory contained 10bn tonnes of gas and oildeposits, the scientists said. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/russia/article/0,,2113289,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront Kremlin lays claim to huge chunk of oil-rich North Pole | Russia | Guardian Unlimited ] ]
Greenlandhas offered 8 license blocks for tender along its west coast by Baffin Bay. Currently 7 of those blocks have been bid for by a combination of multinational oil companies and the National Oil Company NUNAOIL. Companies that have participated successfully in the previous license rounds and have formed a partnership for the licenses with NUNAOIL are, DONG Energy, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Husky Energy, Cairn Energy. The area available known as the West Disko licensing round is of an interest due to its relative accessibility compared to other Arctic basins as the area remains largely free of ice. As well as a number of promising geological leads and prospects from the Paleoceneera.
Geological basins in the Arctic
South Arctic Islands
Kronprins Christian Basin
*West Barents Sea
*East Barents Sea
North Kara Sea
South Kara Sea
East Siberian Sea
North Chukchi Sea
Territorial Claims in the Arctic
Murray, A. 2006. "Arctic offers chilly welcome". E&P, December, 2006 [http://www.woodmac.com/energy/arcticvideo "Arctic Video"]
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