Summary of the results of the USGS Circum-Arctic Resource Appraisal. Results shown are fully risked mean estimates. Total includes oil, gas and natural gas in barrels of oil and oil-equivalent natural gas. Provinces are listed in ranked order of total barrels of oil and oil-equivalent natural gas.
|Oil Producing Region:||Oil||Gas||Total
|million barrels||billion ft³||million BOE†
|West Siberian Basin:
|East Barents Basin:
|East Greenland Rift Basins:
|West Greenland-East Canada:
|Laptev Sea Shelf:
|North Kara Basins and Platforms:
|North Greenland Sheared Margin:
|North Chukchi-Wrangel Foreland Basin:
|Northwest Laptev Sea Shelf:
|East Siberian Sea Basin:
|Northwest Canada Interior Basins:
†BOE : barrels of oil equivalent (oil + gas)
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has estimated that the
Arctic may hold a majority of the world’s remaining untapped oil
and gas reserves, and predicts the majority of these to be located
offshore. As oil and gas reserves have proved increasingly difficult
to find in warmer areas, these reserves have become more important.
As Arctic ice declines, and as oil companies look for new resources,
these reserves have become high value. It is not clear whether the
decline in sea ice will make it easier to develop infrastructure;
however, it may allow for a longer shipping season.
The USGS released the first wide-ranging assessment of Arctic oil
and gas resources in 2008, estimating the quantity of undiscovered and
technically recoverable conventional oil and natural gas resources in
the region. Of the 33 Arctic sedimentary “provinces” evaluated, 25 had a greater
than 10% probability of having oil or gas deposits larger than 50
million barrels of oil equivalent. The USGS assessment concluded that
approximately 90 billion barrels of oil, 1,669 trillion cubic feet of
gas, and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids (NGLs) may be in
the Arctic. Of the total 412 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe),
approximately 84% is probably offshore, and that about two-thirds (67%)
of the total is natural gas.
Production of these potential reserves is not a given. Besides the
enormous and destructive greenhouse gas contribution the production and
use of these fossil fuels would have on the planet, spill cleanup may
be impossible in the Arctic due to the very cold waters, volatile and
extreme weather and ocean patterns, and darkness much of the year.
Because there is currently no cleanup technology or methods for this
environment, any attempted response to a spill would be far too little, too late.
A spill would put critical high value marine life, currently on the edge
from changes underway, at high risk. In addition, noise from drilling could
potentially injure many marine mammals that use sound to navigate, find
mates and find food.
Russia and U.S. Oil Production
Of the eight Arctic Council nations, Russia is by far the most deeply invested in Arctic ocean petroleum exploration
and drilling. Oil and gas account for over 50% of Russian federal budget revenues.
Below: A comparison of Alaska's north shore and Prudhoe Bay- the largest oil field in North America- with the Yamal
Peninsula and the Bovanenkovo Gas Field. These field sizes indicate the potential risks to ecologically fragile areas.
||Yamal-Gydan, Siberia||Arctic Coastal Plain, Alaska
|Area of Interest:
||Yamal Peninsula||Canning to Coville River
|Total Region Area:||235,000||230,000
|Area of Interest:||112,000||71,000
|Total Area Disturbed:||≈ 6,500||785
||Bovanenkovo Gas Field||Prudhoe Bay Oil Field
|Below-ground lease area:||200||16.9
|Severly Disturbed Terrain:||≈ 280||8.8
|Indirect Impact Zone:||448||na
|Area soon to be disturbed:||500||na
Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, Arctic Council -