CBC NEWS – 17 June 2017
President Vladimir Putin says Russia will pour resources into the development of its vast Arctic region for both economic and military reasons.
Speaking in a live call-in show Thursday, Putin said the Arctic region will account for an increasing share of energy output and determine the nation’s future.
Putin added that a military presence in the Arctic region is also essential for ensuring Russia’s security.
The Kremlin has highlighted reaffirming the Russian presence in the Arctic as a top priority amid an intensifying rivalry over the region that is believed to hold up to one-quarter of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas.
Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic as shrinking polar ice creates new opportunities for exploration.
There are 19 geological basins making up the Arctic region. Some of these basins have experienced oil and gas exploration, most notably the Alaska North Slope where oil was first produced in 1968 from Prudhoe Bay. However, only half the basins – such as the Beaufort Sea and the West Barents Sea – have been explored.
A 2008 United States Geological Survey estimates that areas north of the Arctic Circle have 90 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil (and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids ) in 25 geologically defined areas thought to have potential for petroleum. This represents 13% of the undiscovered oil in the world. Of the estimated totals, more than half of the undiscovered oil resources are estimated to occur in just three geologic provinces – Arctic Alaska, the Amerasian Basin, and the East Greenland Rift Basins.
More than 70% of the mean undiscovered oil resources is estimated to occur in five provinces: Arctic Alaska, Amerasia Basin, East Greenland Rift Basins, East Barents Basins, and West Greenland–East Canada. It is further estimated that approximately 84% of the undiscovered oil and gas occurs offshore. The USGS did not consider economic factors such as the effects of permanent sea ice or oceanic water depth in its assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources. This assessment is lower than a 2000 survey, which had included lands south of the arctic circle.
A recent study carried out by Wood Mackenzie on the Arctic potential comments that the likely remaining reserves will be 75% natural gas and 25% oil. It highlights four basins that are likely to be the focus of the petroleum industry in the upcoming years: the Kronprins Christian Basin, which is likely to have large reserves, the southwest Greenland basin, due to its proximity to markets, and the more oil-prone basins of Laptev and Baffin Bay.