[R-G] Arctic Holds 90bn Barrels of Oil and Gas Equal to Russia's Reserves

Gregory Meyerson gmeyerson at triad.rr.com
Fri Jul 25 08:16:55 MDT 2008

Thanks Yoshie:

That natural gas is the equivalent of 287 billion barrels of oil.   
One barrel of oil equals 5800 or so cubic feet of gas.

I'd like to read some articles on the category of undiscovered oil  
and gas.  Historically, how have past predictions of undiscovered  
reserves panned out?

The oil amounts to, if all recoverable (not at all even close to  
likely), just under three years of world supply.

energy bulletin comments as follows:

Energy Bulletin editor emeritus Adam G. writes:

This article presents the 90 billion barrels (the equivalent of just  
under three years' global supply) as a "find" which the press release  
does not. The USGS makes estimates of undiscovered oil based  
primarily on the type of geology present rather than drilling data,  
which is often unavailable. Their past methods and overestimates of  
future oil discoveries have repeatedly been called into question .

The authors themselves stress in their official podcast that "these  
are probabilistic estimates with a great deal of uncertainty in them"  
and that the assessment includes all areas "irregardless of sea ice  
or water depth".

Much of this oil can't actually be "tapped" insofar as that implies  
ease of extraction. It is a cold, thick and sticky fluid which will  
not move easily though the pore spaces of the rocks which hold it,  
and may require heating or other high energy extraction techniques.  
Such marginal resources can not be developed quickly or cheaply and  
will have minimal impact on the timing of peak oil or the rate of  

They (U.S.G.S) claim the oil is 13 % of undiscovered reserves.  This  
means undiscovered reserves come to around 692 billion barrels.

Oil terminology is extremely confusing to the point that it makes it  
hard to draw conclusions from articles like this.  Below is a site  
that gets into the different categories. 

Another article I read stated that proven reserves are at a record  
1.24 trillion barrels. (there are proven, probable and possible  
reserves:  Proven means 90 % chance the reserves are actually there  
and technically producible; probable means 50 percent chance;  
possible means 10 percent chance].

But proven reserves have been also criticized as unreliable, with  
many so called proven reserves deemed "political reserves."

The USGS conservative number (95% probability) for ultimately  
recoverable reserves back in 2000 was 2.2 trillion barrels.

if people take undiscovered reserves to be real and buy the proven  
reserves number, we're not at peak for quite a while (20 or so  
years).  but that's what the whole debate is about.

On Jul 25, 2008, at 3:18 AM, Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

> <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c09bf974-5916-11dd-a093-000077b07658.html>
> 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 region.
> 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
> natural gas.
> 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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