A third of the world’s remaining natural gas and 13 per cent of its oil is trapped beneath the Arctic
Tensions over the Arctic’s untapped energy reserves are expected to build after a survey has found substantial mineral riches under the ice.
The analysis, by researchers at the U.S. Geologic Survey, found that a third of world’s remaining natural gas and 13 per cent of its oil are trapped beneath the oceans of the North Pole.
The precious supply has remained largely untouched until now because of the impenetrable ice sheets.
The study’s lead author Donald Gautier predicts that the findings will spur Russia to strengthen its control over the gas resources. It has already actively asserted its claim to parts of the Arctic.
Russia already is the world’s leading natural gas producer, noted Gautier.
Two-thirds of the undiscovered gas is in just four areas – South Kara Sea, North Barents Basin, South Barents Basin and the Alaska Platform – the report said.
Indeed, the South Kara Sea off Siberia contains 39 per cent of the Arctic’s undiscovered gas, the researchers said.
It first submitted a claim to the United Nations in 2001, but was rejected for lack of evidence. The United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway also have sought to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic.
Now, Russia is working to prove that an underwater mountain range crossing the polar region is part of its continental shelf.
In 2007, two Russian civilian mini-submarines descended to the seabed to collect geological and water samples and drop a titanium canister containing the Russian flag.
Arctic oil reserves are significantly smaller than those of natural gas and are unlikely to lead to any shift in world oil balance, Gautier said in a recorded briefing provided by Science.
But they could be of importance locally if developed by individual countries, he said, citing in particular the United States and Greenland, which is governed by Denmark.
However, Gautier pointed out that the study looked only at the geological setting and the chance that energy resources are present.
‘If these resources were to be found they would not be found all at once. They would be found incrementally, and they would be produced incrementally,’ he said, urging caution about assuming that the oil might extend world production significantly.
Gautier said the study focused on geological conditions in the Arctic and how they compared to other parts of the world where oil and gas have been found.
Because so much of this territory is unexplored and data is so limited the researchers had to develop a new method to do assessments, Gautier said.
They collected the best information they could for the region and then subdivided it into geological areas.
Those areas were compared with geological regions around the world where gas or oil have already been found in order to predict where more resources are likely to be located.
Gas and oil tend to be found in sedimentary basins, he said, and ‘each one of these basins has a story, a geologic story.’
‘As new data become available, our understanding of the resources in the Arctic will change,’ he added.
Via Daily Mail