Petroleum exploration in the Arctic

Petroleum exploration in the Arctic

The exploration of the Arctic for petroleum is 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 Slope where oil was first produced in 1968 from Prudhoe Bay. However, only half the basins - such as the Beaufort Sea and 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 Mackenzie on 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 Greenland basin, due to its proximity to markets, and the more oil-prone basins of Laptev and Baffin Bay.

In June 2007,a group of Russian geologists returned from a six-week voyage on a nuclear icebreaker. They had travelled to the Lomonosov ridge, 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 Federation territory, boosting Russia's claim over the oil-and-gas rich triangle. The territory contained 10bn tonnes of gas and oil deposits, the scientists said. [ [,,2113289,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront Kremlin lays claim to huge chunk of oil-rich North Pole | Russia | Guardian Unlimited ] ]


Greenland has 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 Paleocene era.

Geological basins in the Arctic

*North Slope
*Beaufort Sea
*South Arctic Islands
*Franklinian Sendrup
*Baffin Bay
*Labrador Shelf
*Southwest Greenland
*North Greenland
*Kronprins Christian Basin
*West Barents Sea
*East Barents Sea
*North Kara Sea
*South Kara Sea
*Laptev Sea
*East Siberian Sea
*North Chukchi Sea
*Pechora Sea


ee also

*Territorial Claims in the Arctic

Murray, A. 2006. "Arctic offers chilly welcome". E&P, December, 2006 [ "Arctic Video"]

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