[R-G] Arctic Holds 90bn Barrels of Oil and Gas Equal to Russia's Reserves
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Fri Jul 25 01:18:56 MDT 2008
Arctic holds 90bn barrels of oil and gas equal to Russia's reserves
By Carola Hoyos in London and Sheila McNulty in Houston
Published: July 24 2008 03:00 | Last updated: July 24 2008 03:00
The Arctic holds as many as 90bn barrels of undiscovered oil and has
as much undiscovered gas as all the reserves known to exist in Russia,
US government scientists have said in the first state assessment of
The estimates could fuel the race among polar nations, such as Russia,
the US, Denmark, Norway and Canada, vying for control of the region,
though the study said Russia and the Alaska platform appeared to have
the most undiscovered resources.
Alaska's strong estimates are likely to strengthen controversial
arguments for opening protected areas of the state.
The 90bn barrels of undiscovered oil the US Geological Survey believes
the Arctic holds is 13 per cent of the world's undiscovered oil -
about the known reserves of the United Arab Emirates. The 1,669,000bn
cubic feet of natural gas are equivalent to 30 per cent of
undiscovered gas reserves.
"The extensive Arctic continental shelf may constitute the
geographically largest unexplored prospective area for petroleum
remaining on earth," the USGS said. Its report only makes estimates
based on conventional resources recoverable through a well bore; there
could be more trapped in heavy sands or shale.
Last August Russia planted its flag on the seabed 4km under the North
Pole raising fears of a rush to grab the Arctic's mineral resources.
Denmark in May called a summit of the five Arctic powers to try to
reiterate the countries' commitment to the UN's Law of the Sea
Convention that governs territorial waters.
Yet Donald Gautier, a USGS scientist, said most of the undiscovered
resources were in areas already under territorial claims, and the Pole
itself did not appear "very interesting" for fossil fuels.
Commercial interest in exploiting the Arctic has increased with Royal
Dutch Shell, the Anglo-Dutch energy group, pushing to help Russia
develop gas from the Yamal region, and Total having won the right to
do so at Russia's giant Shtokman gas field.
In the US, companies are pushing into Arctic Alaska, while Denmark has
drawn interest in exploring off Greenland.
Mr Gautier said: "Only Arctic Alaska really booms out.'' It shows the
most promise for oil resources, while Russia shows the most for
Consultants Wood Mackenzie in 2006 estimated the Arctic basins,
including those being developed, held 233bn barrels of discovered oil
and gas and another 166bn that had yet to be found, most of it gas.
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