Onshore production and undiscovered potential resources are huge, and offshore production is growing

Arctic Oil and Gas Production and Potential

Published
American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

Arctic exploration and production is heating up: Shell plans to resume drilling in the arctic offshore Alaska in 2015, and in the spring of 2015 the U.S. is assuming the leadership of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum created to address the concerns to Arctic nations and the region’s indigenous peoples.

Undiscovered Arctic oil and gas resources are huge, as are producing onshore fields. There are only a few producing fields in the offshore arctic, but that number could expand with planned drilling offshore Russia and Alaska.

However, U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia are likely to delay drilling in the Kara Sea where Exxon Mobil is a partner with Rosneft. And in Alaska, Shell’s Chukchi Sea drilling is dependent on the completion of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) environmental analysis and review of Shell’s exploration plan.

The U.S. Geological Survey (2008) estimates that 90 billion barrels of oil, 1,669 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids may remain to be found in the Arctic, of which approximately 84 percent is expected to occur in offshore areas. This is a significant resource, representing 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil resources and 30 percent of its undiscovered conventional natural gas resources.

In addition, a number of onshore areas in Canada, Rus­sia, and Alaska already have been explored for petroleum, resulting in the discovery of more than 400 oil and gas fields north of the Arctic Circle. These discoveries account for ap­proximately 240 billion barrels of oil and oil-equivalent natural gas, which is almost 10 percent of the global known con­ventional petroleum resource.

The U.S., Norway and Russia are currently producing from Arctic waters.

  • In 2013 the Federal offshore portion of the Northstar in the Beaufort Sea produced 654,638 barrels of oil and 28.99 billion cubic feet of natural gas, which represented about 17 percent of total production from the federal/state unit.

  • Norway started production from Snohvit in the Barents Sea in 2007. In 2012 production was 189 billion cubic feet of gas, 3 million barrels of  natural gas liquids, and 5.4 million barrels of condensate.

  • Russia shipped its first offshore Arctic oil in April 2014, from the Prirazlomnoye field, which is expected to produce 120,000 barrels per day by 2020. 

For more information:

The Arctic Technology Conference 2015, ATC 2015, will be 23–25 March 2015 at the Bella Center in Copenhagen. This conference is sponsored by 14 technical societies and organizations, including AAPG, in a multidisciplinary approach modeled on OTC. The website is www.arctictechnologyconference.com/

The International Conference on Arctic Margins, ICAM VII, will be June, 2-5, 2015, in St. Petersburg, Russia. For additional information, contact Garrik Grikurov ().

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