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U.S. Geological Survey Circum-Arctic Resource Appraisal

Gautier, Don 1
1 U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA.

The resource potential of the high northern latitudes is one of the great uncertainties in the future oil and gas supply. Using a geologically based probabilistic methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey has completed the first public-domain assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources north of the Arctic Circle. The USGS estimates that about 13 % of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30% of the undiscovered gas lies in the Arctic, most of it offshore under less than 500m of water. Undiscovered oil is expected in many areas, and seven geologically defined assessment units have a better than even chance of a billion barrel oil field. The Alaska Platform is outstanding, with 30% percent of the mean estimated Arctic oil resource. The Arctic is gas prone; three times more gas than oil is estimated and, on an energy-equivalent basis, the largest expected gas field is eight times the size of the largest expected oil field. Although large amounts of gas are predicted in Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Norway, gas resources are concentrated in Russia. The South Kara Sea, offshore in the northern West Siberian Basin, is the most prospective hydrocarbon province in the Arctic. Development will depend upon market conditions, technological innovation and accumulation size. These first estimates are, in many cases, based on scant geological information and our understanding of Arctic resources will certainly change as more data become available.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90090©2009 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, Denver, Colorado, June 7-10, 2009