Reston, Virginia – A new U.S. Geological Survey released by the Department of the Interior estimates that the area north of the Arctic Circle contains an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered and technically recoverable oil, along with 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids in 25 areas thought to have potential for petroleum. The assessment is the first publicly-available petroleum resource estimate of the entire area north of the Arctic Circle.
These resources account for about 22 per cent of the world’s undiscovered and technically recoverable resources. The Arctic accounts for about 13 per cent of the undiscovered oil, 30 per cent of undiscovered natural gas and 20 per cent of the undiscovered natural gas liquids worldwide. About 84 per cent of the resources are expected to occur offshore.
“Before we can make decisions about our future use of oil and gas and related decisions about protecting endangered species, native communities and the health of our planet, we need to know what’s out there,” said Mark Myers, Director of the U.S. Geological Survey. “With this assessment, we’re providing the same information to everyone in the world so that the global community can make those difficult decisions.”
Of the estimated undiscovered oil totals, more than half are estimated to occur in just three geologic provinces: Arctic Alaska, the Amerasia Basin, and the East Greenland Rift Basins. More than 70 per cent of the undiscovered natural gas is estimated to occur in the West Siberian Basin, the East Barents Basins, and Arctic Alaska.
Exploration for petroleum has already resulted in the discovery of more than 400 oil and gas fields north of the Arctic Circle, which account for approximately 40 billion barrels of oil, more than 1,100 trillion cubic feet of gas and 8.5 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, but the Arctic, especially offshore, is essentially unexplored with respect to petroleum.