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USGS Estimates the Arctic Holds About 22% of Global Undiscovered, Technically Recoverable Oil, Gas and NGLs

Cara1
Assessment units (AUs) in the Circum-Arctic Resource Appraisal (CARA) color-coded by assessed probability of the presence of at least one undiscovered oil and/or gas field with recoverable resources greater than 50 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMBOE). Probabilities for AUs are based on the entire area of the AU, including any parts south of the Arctic Circle. Click to enlarge.

The area north of the Arctic Circle has an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil, 1,670 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas, and 44 billion barrels of technically recoverable natural gas liquids (NGLs) in 25 geologically defined areas thought to have potential for petroleum, according to an assessment by the US Geological Survey (USGS). The assessment from the USGS Circum-Arctic Resource Appraisal (earlier post) is the first publicly available petroleum resource estimate of the entire area north of the Arctic Circle.

These resources account for about 22% of the undiscovered, technically recoverable resources in the world. The Arctic accounts for about 13% of the undiscovered oil, 30% of the undiscovered natural gas, and 20% of the undiscovered natural gas liquids in the world. About 84% of the estimated resources are expected to occur offshore.

Of the estimated totals, more than half of the undiscovered oil resources are estimated to occur in just three geologic provinces: Arctic Alaska, the Amerasia Basin, and the East Greenland Rift Basins. On an oil-equivalency basis, undiscovered natural gas is estimated to be three times more abundant than oil in the Arctic. More than 70% of the undiscovered natural gas is estimated to occur in three provinces: the West Siberian Basin, the East Barents Basins, and Arctic Alaska.

Before we can make decisions about our future use of oil and gas and related decisions about protecting endangered species, native communities and the health of our planet, we need to know what’s out there. With this assessment, we’re providing the same information to everyone in the world so that the global community can make those difficult decisions.

—USGS Director Mark Myers

The USGS Circum-Arctic Resource Appraisal (CARA) is part of a project to assess the global petroleum basins using standardized and consistent methodology and protocol. This approach allows for an area’s petroleum potential to be compared to other petroleum basins in the world. The USGS worked with a number of international organizations to conduct the geologic analyses of these Arctic provinces.

Technically recoverable resources are those producible using currently available technology and industry practices. For the purposes of this study, 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. The USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources.

Exploration for petroleum has already resulted in the discovery of more than 400 oil and gas fields north of the Arctic Circle. These fields account for approximately 40 billion barrels of oil, more than 1,100 trillion cubic feet of gas, and 8.5 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. Nevertheless, the Arctic, especially offshore, is essentially unexplored with respect to petroleum.

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Comments

hybrid fan

The good news is that the vast majority of these resources are NOT in United States territory. Canada, Russia, Norway etc will drill, each and all. It's not America's decision. Thank God.

eric

"If USA's per capita GHG emissions are 7500x the world average, Australians and Canadians (the other two champions) must be close to 8000x?"

yes, but their populations are 10+ times smaller than the US population. just pointing at other people who are even worse environmental vandals than you does not make your record any better.

Kit

Eric, where do you live? I would like to learn about all the things your country has done. Of course when I do compare I will find the Eric does not have much to brag about. Most likely Eric lives in a country that wants us to use less coal so they can import it from US.

The US is one of the most efficient and productive counties in the world which allows us to live in big houses and drive big cars without regard to your station in life when you were born. Unfortunately we have large intervenor industry and liberal press who mostly live in dirty concrete cities. Almost all of the US is very beautiful.

sjc

who's left holding the bag?

The banks if they are the ones who made the lease.

Jer

I think this Report may signal a greater transitional movement to non-fossil fuel infrastructure as prices moderate (though not likely drop to $60 and not for 3-5+ years). It is the suddenness of the oil price jump and the fears (provable or not) of an abrupt deterioration of fossil fuel sources that has caused such economic hardship (specifically in Asia, you north american whiners (i am north american))- no Global warming issue is worth that. This may be our saving grace. With the potential to ease transition from a couple of decades to mid-century, we will have a more balanced integration of new technologies, not the hectic and poorly thought-out/implemented scramble for alternative fuel replacements (witness corn-based ethanol and palm-oil deforestation). Environmentalists may laud the disruptive and freakishly sudden bump of fuel prices - but that will only create chaos rather than productive lifestyle-change encouragement - opinions to the contrary would be cynical and anti-social.
Further, I hope those countries that access these windfalls will maintain high environmental standards, responsible post-exploitation clean-up strategies, a diverse not-all-commodities economy (i am looking at you Russia and Canada), and a respect for other industries, communities, and ecosystems nearby. The opening of a whole new resource system will hopefully be subject to International guidelines and transparency. Oil may be the source of much evil, but the alternative of being without it for the next 20 to 40 years is worse.

To think that being out by an (engineering) order of magnetude or 3 little 0's isnt bad enough for one day, you b* ers let me get away with it.
Lets stick with the generall consensus of 7.5 or closer to eight times in the case of Australia and Canada.
Must make a note to get my google updated !
Arn

J T

Here is the big picture.

The world needs more Oil? No, the world needs more energy.
If we make more oil available then it will get sold, and harm the environment. It will also delay the switch to greener, cleaner power production and use.

This was the same situation we were in back in the 70's when Canada bailed out the USA and began producing tar sands oil. All the promises of a "green revolution" were soon up in oil smoke.

If anyone thinks that it won't happen again, please remember the past. You all are guilty of the state our planet is in.

Our technology for making clean energy is available. Why not have a clean world, and cheaper energy, and an unpolluted wildlife sanctuary?

HarveyD

eric:

Total or per capita emissions are rather irrelevant indicators when imports and exports are not considered. Quatar's per capita emissions are one of the very higest in the world but is it mainly created by their Gaz and Oil industries which are mainly (90%+) exported. Once you remove exported products, their per capita emissions would be one of the lowest. China's per capita emissions would also be much lower when exports are considered.

The reverse may be said of USA. With their huge trade deficits, the real US per capita emissions would be closer to 35 tonnes than the actual 22 tonnes when imports are considered.

In other words, you can look much better, GHG wise, when somebody else manufactures all the polluting stuff for you and you buy it with loans from the same place. If you push this process to the limits, you could almost drive your GHG close to zero.

ai_vin

Harvey, you hit the nail on the head with this post. It always bugs me when people, such as our leaders at the last G8 meeting, say we can't do anything about GW until we get the Chinese to agree with a plan. As you say the real reason they are polluting as much as they are is because they are producing goods for us without any of the environmental or labor regs we have.

We don't need to get the Chinese to agree to any plan. If we go green first they will have to follow because we will be buying green products and if they want to keep selling to us they will have to make their products green. Here's how we COULD do it;

In the US there is an Organization called Green Seal. It does environmental accounting for companies and gives them a green label to put on their products. Simply have a law that anything bought in a store with one of these labels is excused from sales taxes. The consumer sees green goods as lower cost goods.

HarveyD

ai-vin;

It's a kind of (not so honest) world game.

It is a well known fact that major (top) consumers are responsible for a lot more GHG than very poor people with very low consumption.

Biclycles pollute a lot less than Hummers.

People living in a one light bulb one room house consume and pollute a lot less than those living in large mansions with 200+ lights, full AC, 4 large TVs, 3 large cars etc.

However, when most light bulbs, AC, cars, TVs, telephones, cell phones, and cloths etc we wear are made by the one room house people, we tell them that they produce a lot more pollution than before and they should stop using lower cost coal fired power plants to generate the energy required to manufacture most of the goods we use etc.

I don't know what we should call ourselves for saying such futilities.

Axil

@HarveyD

Update your world view! China is no longer a “One Light Bulb Society”. There is a widely held consensus among well informed experts that China is an emerging super power that will by mid century surpass the US in total wealth and power. The way each country of the world treats China is the big geopolitical challenge to which every country must adjust in the twenty first century.

If these countries that have the majority of the coal reserves: USA, Canada, Australia, India, South Africa, Russia, form a coal cartel on the OPEC model, then some gentle persuasion can be suggested about the environmental causes and consequences to China.

Axil

@HarveyD

Update your world view! China is no longer a “One Light Bulb Society”. There is a widely held consensus among well informed experts that China is an emerging super power that will by mid century surpass the US in total wealth and power. The way each country of the world treats China is the big geopolitical challenge to which every country must adjust in the twenty first century.

If these countries that have the majority of the coal reserves: USA, Canada, Australia, India, South Africa, Russia, form a coal cartel on the OPEC model, then some gentle persuasion can be suggested about the environmental causes and consequences to China.

Axil

@HarveyD

Update your world view! China is no longer a “One Light Bulb Society”. There is a widely held consensus among well informed experts that China is an emerging super power that will by mid century surpass the US in total wealth and power. The way each country of the world treats China is the big geopolitical challenge to which every country must adjust in the twenty first century.

If these countries that have the majority of the coal reserves: USA, Canada, Australia, India, South Africa, Russia, form a coal cartel on the OPEC model, then some gentle persuasion can be suggested about the environmental causes and consequences to China.

critta

This announcement is a lot of carry on about nothing. One point to add, possible reserves do not equal production capacity. There have been announcements of huge oil finds in the past but nothing comes of them because of the technical difficulties of getting the oil out.

We do need to take immediate action on climate change but very few connect the dots with peak oil. China's 1.3 billion people will never have a western car dependent lifestyle because there isn't enough oil, road space, parking etc. to do it. I agree with Axil, coal is the problem, it's too cheap and too easy, bring on a global carbon price.

Kit, your world view belongs in the 19th century. Ebenezer Howard was saying the same thing in the 1890's. The world has changed, maybe it's time time to move on.

Eric

@Axil

Doesn't China also have some of the world's largest resources of coal?

TXGeologist

UH the world is not running out of energy resources not by any means, how about Insitu recovery of the massive tarsands in ALberta without the mining and water issues. This process is going to revolutionize the industry. $4 in energy costs per barrel. and one year production cycle instead of 10 with steam gravity drainage. 1.6 TRILLON barrels are recoverable with this method which is similar to the raytheon oil shale method also capable of getting at over a TRILLON barrels of light hydrocarbons.

http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/business/story.html?id=bad6cd55-4983-4b12-ad19-9b236d297fd2&p=2

http://www.engineering.ualberta.ca/uofaengineer/article.cfm?article=51413&issue=46477

"The process has several remarkable features. Oil can be recovered from deposits very quickly—75 to 80 percent of oil can be recovered in one year. It is environmentally friendly; small wells are drilled for electrodes and pumps while the rest of the land is disturbed as minimally as possible."

" E-T Energy has a possible niche market of 1.66 trillion barrels of oil—enough oil to sustain the world’s current needs for 55 years."


lets also not forget that insitu coal gassification can and will unlock 1.6 TRILLON tons of coal that is too deep to mine just in the USA alone, while world wide there is 10 TRILLON tons accessable to UGC methods. bare in mind that with F-T to Diesel 1 metric ton of coal sysgas comes out as 1.5 barrels of Diesel 10 trillon tons in the world thats centuries or more of hydrocarbon supply just in coal liquids.

https://eed.llnl.gov/co2/pdf/UCG_CongTest.pdf

lets also not forget methane hydrates with over 200,000 Trillon cubic feet estimated world wide again centurys of energy.

http://gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/gashydrates/canada/index_e.php

The Mallik hydrate production test was a total success the Japanese are moving forward with offshore hydrate production on a commercial level as well. Current production cost put onland hydrates are 4-7$/mmbtu natural gas is already over that level. High energy cost drive innovation to access non-conventional sources.

DRILLHEREDRILLNOW!PAYLESS

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2005/03/66925

http://www.memagazine.org/pefeb05/buriedt/buriedt.html

200000 trillon cubic feet/5487 = 36.44 Trillon barrels of oil equvalent.

1 barrel of oil equivalent = 5,487 cubic feet of gas

Work at the Mallik site in the Canadian Arctic over the past seven years has definitively established that production of methane from hydrates can occur using existing well-based technologies. Furthermore, based on the results of the scientific production response tests conducted at Mallik in 2002, it is now believed that depressurization can result in significant and economically viable volumes and rates of methane production. Research reported at a major petroleum geology conference in September 2004 indicates that, by leveraging existing infrastructure, production can be economical at gas prices on the order of $4 to $6 per thousand cubic feet.

http://www.wtrg.com/daily/oilandgasspot.html

$9.32 mmbtu as of today.

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