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Sunday, September 15, 2013

How to find oil in the Arctic

Oil comapnies are increasingly seeking out oil exploration opportunities in the Arctic
Oil drilling in the Arctic poses operational and logistical challenges
 By Sienna Hawkins

The Arctic is a region located at the very northernmost of our planet and comprises of the Arctic Ocean as well as parts of Canada, Russia, Denmark, Norway, Alaska, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. It is a vast area consisting of ice covered ocean and surrounded by treeless forests. The Arctic is a unique area on our world and one of the most inhospitable places on earth.

The Arctic is a huge expanse and the exploration for oil is much more challenging than any other environment on earth. However, due to advances in modern technology, the high price of oil and the drastic effects of global warming, it has now become of huge interest to the petroleum industry.
Nineteen geological basins make up the Arctic region and some of these have already experienced oil and gas exploration. In the Alaska North Slope, oil was first produced from Predhow Bay in 1968 and yet only half of the other basins such as the Beaufort Sea and West Barents Sea have yet to be explored.

It is estimated that the Arctic holds 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil and around 30% of undiscovered natural gas. All this amounts to a staggering 400 billion barrels of oil – equivalent to ten times the entire total of oil and gas produced in the North Sea to date. Accessing and developing the Arctic may be essential for securing our world energy needs for the future but the project will also mean a fine balance between economic, environmental and social issues.

Wood Mackenzie recently carried out a study on the Arctic and its potential for oil and came to the conclusion that the remaining reserves here would most likely comprise of 75% natural gas and 25% oil. The study highlighted four basins which were likely to be the focus for the oil, petroleum and gas industries in upcoming years. These were the Kronprins Christian Basin thought to have large reserves, the Greenland basin and the Laptev and Baffin Bay basins.

How companies operate in the Arctic

The Arctic is a unique place on earth and as such requires thought and care with every project. The sheer remoteness and harsh weather conditions means that a range of advanced technologies is required in order to develop resources safely.

The Arctic is not just a unique environment it is also the home of many indigenous people who rely on this expanse of land and sea for their livelihood. Oil companies need to build strong relationships with the local communities and remain sensitive to their concerns and conscious about environmental impact.

Oil companies must draw upon their extensive experience and state of the art technology to ensure that they have the required expertise to operate safely, responsibly and with sensitivity in these extreme conditions.

If you are interested in oil exploration in the arctic then the Shell website offers further details about their ongoing work and challenges. Find out how specialist equipment, oil seals and oil extraction machinery are making oil exploration safer.

About the author: Sienna Hawkins has worked in the Oil & Gas industry for several decades and prides herself on knowing the process from top to bottom, from geology to chemical compatibility.

* Image license: US-PDGov