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USGS Estimates Laptev Sea Shelf in Arctic to Hold 3 Billion Barrels of Undiscovered Crude Oil

Laptev
Map showing location of the Laptev Sea Shelf Province and assessment units. Click to enlarge.

The Laptev Sea Shelf province, in the Arctic waters off of the Russian Federation, holds an estimated 3.07 billion barrels of crude oil in undiscovered resources, according to an assessment by the US Geological Survey (USGS) as part of its Circum-Arctic Oil and Gas Resource Appraisal (CARA).

The Laptev region holds a total of 9.3 billion barrels of oil equivalent in undiscovered resources, with some 32.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The USGS estimates the greatest volume of undiscovered crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids to be in the West Laptev Grabens Assessment Unit.

Cara
CARA will provide the first comprehensive assessment of undiscovered resources in the Arctic. The orange outlines mark the two regions that have been appraised. Pink shaded areas show land above the Arctic Circle, while blue shaded areas show the Arctic Shelf (water depths less than 500m). Click to enlarge.

The Laptev assessment is the second to be released as part of the CARA project; USGS released its assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources in the East Greenland Rift Basins Province in October.

The Greenland assessment concluded that the mean undiscovered, conventional petroleum resources in the province to be approximately 31.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent of oil, gas, and natural gas liquids. In comparison to the world´s 500 other oil and gas provinces, if this resource is proved and realized, northeastern Greenland would rank 19th.

In comparison to the earlier USGS assessment of northeastern Greenland made as part of the World Petroleum Assessment of 2000, this current assessment estimated significantly less total resource, more natural gas and natural gas liquids, and an increased ratio of gas to oil. New geological data indicate that the burial and uplift history of the province and the source rock character are suggestive of significantly more gas generation than previously interpreted.

The 2000 assessment estimated 47 billion barrels of oil, 81 trillion cubic feet TCF of natural gas, and 4 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. The 2007 assessment of Greenland estimates a mean of 8.9 billion barrels of oil, 86.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 8.1 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.

The USGS World Petroleum Assessment of 2000 indicated that a large portion of the world’s remaining oil and gas resources may be in the Arctic. (This led to a mistaken and widely reported interpretation of the report that 25% of the world’s remaining undiscovered petroleum is within the Arctic.) However, the oil and gas basins evaluated in the report contained substantial tracts that were not within the Arctic, and the report did not include estimates of undiscovered resources from all basin areas north of the Arctic Circle.

The CARA project will be the first comprehensive, consistent assessment of Arctic oil and gas resources ever conducted in the public domain. USGS will continue to release interim results of various province evaluations during the coming year, with final results presented in the summer of 2008.

Resources

Comments

DC

So we can assume something more like 1 billion given the USGS' history of wildly optimistic estimations.

Andrey

DC:

Most probably Russian oil&gas reserves in Arctic ocean continental shelf are huge:

‘Most estimates [Granberg et al., 1993; Malovitski et al., 1994] suggest that promising oil- and gas-bearing areas are found on about 90% of all Russian shelves. They cover 5.2-6.2 million square kilometers. Potential recoverable hydrocarbon resources of the Russian continental shelves are estimated within 90 to 100 billion tons of oil equivalent. Natural gas resources account for 80% of them.’

http://www.offshore-environment.com/russianoil.html

But these recourses are mostly useless. It is not possible to build offshore drilling platforms in the seas seasonally plagued by drifting ice fields. The only exception is reserves of Barents sea, which is mostly free of ice because of warm Gulfstream. Currently Russia signed agreement with US to supply huge amounts of LNG from Barents sea NG fields to US East shore.

However, huge continental landmasses of Eastern Siberia and Rusian Far East are not explored for oil and NG at all. Any way, because the regions are lacking infrastructure and population, and have extremely inhospitable cold continental climate, their oil exploration will be invariably slow and expensive.

bosch

Sweet Jesus! So why the hell are we wasting our time on hybrids biodiesel and all that BS?

Andrey

Bosch:

For couple of reasons.

First, efficient use of expensive commodities delivers more bang for a buck for consumers of final goods (like big screen TV or tropical fruit in your convenient store).

Second, you do not want for somebody outside of your country to have your balls held hostages of their mood over GWB politics.

Third, unlike base metals which are currently 70+% recycled, oil gas and coal are principally not recyclable at all, and are subject to exhaustion.

In practical terms, the reason why US and world economy did not spiralled into recession when oil (representing about half of all energy consumed) price skyrocketed from 15 to 95 $ per barrel, is that from last oil crisis of 70-s energy efficiency (dollar of GDP per bbl of oil used) of Western World economy tripled.

Now, ‘diesel hybrids’ could double this barrel-per-dollarGDP ratio.

"Sweet Jesus! So why the hell are we wasting our time on hybrids biodiesel and all that BS?"

err, 3bn barrels is a little over a month's oil supply for the world, that's why. maybe find out a little more about these things before making uninformed statements?

swen

Well, let's get off oil, shall we? Most of the oil their
finding has us beholden to some dictator that hates our
guts and it compromises our foreign policy.

swen

sorry; substitute 'they're' for 'their'.

Harvey D

As the world consumption reaches almost million barrels/day or about 3 billion barrels/month, even multi billion barrel discoveries dont mean that much any more. It will take a huge 60+ billion barrel discovery to extend peak oil just another 5 years.

We will have consume oil and gas with less permissibility to make what is left last longer.

Our vehicles will have to go 100+ mpg instead of the current 15 mpg.
Our HVAC and trains etc will have be electricified.

We may have to do like China and build 100 new up to date nuclear power plants. Objectors will line the streets for miles...

Lou Grinzo

Harvey D: The situation is even more serious than that. A lot of these new finds, like Jack2 in the Gulf of Mexico or Tupi off the Brazilian coast are sizable, but they're in such difficult to reach and exploit places that we won't get large flows from them. Even if we found a truly immense oil field--500 billion barrels, say--it would do us no good in delaying the peak unless we could get it out of the ground quickly enough.

As many others have pointed out, it's not just the size of the tank, but the size of the spigot, as well, that matters.

Ben

3 billion barrels, wow, that makes this year rate of discovery much higher then the last few years, we are still no where close to find as much oil as we consume though.

washington

Sounds to me like all the chicken littles about peak oil this and global warming that were wrong. Here comes 70 cent per gallon gasoline again.

Ben

washington,


aaah can you read? 3 billion barrels is nothing, a drop in the bucket, the world uses 28 billion barrels and rising every year (~3 billion barrels a month!). At present we find less then 5 bilion barrels a year and consume 25+ barrels! Peak Oil is a guaranteed its just a matter of when, and finding and mining of this reserve would add at most a month to the peak oil deadline!

Rafael Seidl

These reserves are "undiscovered" in the sense that no-one has actually drilled a hole and proven that oil comes out of it. The estimates are primarily based on analysis of seismic data.

Perhaps more important is that investors don't care all that much about how much oil is physically available. Rather, they care about how much of it can be produced at a profit, the so called "proven reserves". There are complex and ultra-conservative rules on how these must be reported, as Shell found out to its cost. Suffice it to say that at ~$100/barrel, a larger share of the oil still present in already producing fields may now be counted towards proven reserves.

In particular, high crude prices make advanced recovery techniques economically viable - provided they remain fairly high for a couple of decades. And there's the rub: if one of the major world economies (e.g. the US) were to slip into recession, we could once again face an oil glut and low prices.

The same applies to developing new fields in remote and dangerous places like the arctic ocean. Given enough time and money, engineers could no doubt come up with some way to access at least part of the oil underneath the ice, e.g. using severe horizontal drilling and/or submarine drilling platforms. The question is if such expensive techniques will be economically viable through their long amortization periods.

litesong

Billions & billions. Knew it was all coming to this 50 years ago. My 42 & 45MPG tiny vehicles & sub 60 degree house led the way to the answer, but I looked up at the monster vehicles & thinly clad winter people & knew few others followed along.
Recently got on my electric bicycle & am following the 18 million Chinese that bought an Ebike last year. Sure bikes aren't the whole answer(altho a bigger answer than you think), but tiny is. Get something tiny, be it ICE, hybrid, electric, hydrogen. Think in higher MPG or miles/kilowatt than you've been getting. What you don't consume today gives us time tomorrow. & for Heaven's sake, put on a couple sweaters & turn the thermostat down(or up to 77 degrees & take some clothes off in the summer) if you won't buy a smaller house. The answer is tinier & closer at hand (or skin level) than you think. Be a good skinflint. ha ha ha

litesong

Billions & billions. Knew it was all coming to this 50 years ago. My 42 & 45MPG tiny vehicles & sub 60 degree house led the way to the answer, but I looked up at the monster vehicles & thinly clad winter people & knew few others followed along.
Recently got on my electric bicycle & am following the 18 million Chinese that bought an Ebike last year. Sure bikes aren't the whole answer(altho a bigger answer than you think), but tiny is. Get something tiny, be it ICE, hybrid, electric, hydrogen. Think in higher MPG or miles/kilowatt than you've been getting. What you don't consume today gives us time tomorrow. & for Heaven's sake, put on a couple sweaters & turn the thermostat down(or up to 77 degrees & take some clothes off in the summer) if you won't buy a smaller house. The answer is tinier & closer at hand (or skin level) than you think. Be a good skinflint. ha ha ha

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