With temperatures below minus 50° Celsius the climate on the North Pole can be rough, but beneath the surface of the enormous ice structures is also one of the largest oil and gas resources in the world.
The Arctic might contain over one fifth of the world’s undiscovered, recoverable oil and natural gas resources, according to a report from July this year by the USGS - U.S. Geological Survey. The company found that the area north of the Arctic Circle has an estimated 14 billion m3 (90 billion bbl) of crude oil and 47 trillion m3 of natural gas – the second largest resources after Saudi Arabia.
The USGS survey brings together disparate data held by individual countries as well as new information from geologists working in the field. It is the first time such a comprehensive publicly available estimate of the Arctic’s hydrocarbon treasures survey is produced. In a similar fashion, USGS and the Danish GEUS estimated the reserves at North-East Greenland to be around 5 billion m3 (31 billion bbl) of undiscovered, recoverable oil and natural gas resources.
The greatest challenge will first and foremost be to find a model for the sharing of the oil fields between the countries that plead themselves the right to extract the oil. Next, it will be an extremely difficult task to extract the oil due to the climatic conditions, and it will take decades before any oil could be produced.
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