Opportunities and Challenges for Arctic Oil and Gas Development

_, _ (Eurasia Group report for The Wilson Center, Washington, D.C.)


Copyright 2014, Offshore Technology Conference This paper was prepared for presentation at the Arctic Technology Conference held in Houston, Texas, USA, 10-12 February 2014. This paper was selected for presentation by an ATC program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper have not been reviewed by the Offshore Technology Conference and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect any position of the Offshore Technology Conference, its officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written consent of the Offshore Technology Conference is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of OTC copyright. I. Introduction Overview As climate change renders the Arctic increasingly accessible, there has been a substantial uptick in industry interest in the region; it is believed an estimated $100 billion could be invested in the Arctic over the next decade. The Arctic contains vast oil and natural gas reserves--the U.S. Geological Survey estimates the Arctic could contain 1,670 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas and 90 billion barrels of oil, or 30 percent of the world's undiscovered gas and 13 percent of oil. Energy companies are certain to be at the forefront of Arctic development and investment. Climate change has played an important role in expanding access to the Arctic region, although there have been fewer opportunities to access lower cost oil and gas plays. As conventional production has declined, industry has had to focus more on difficult-to-access and unconventional oil and gas plays throughout the world, including those in the Arctic. Exploration and development in the Arctic requires expensive, tailored technologies as well as safeguards adapted to the extreme climatic conditions. In the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident, there have been additional costs associated with emergency response and containment requirements. Regulators, as well as social and environmental groups, have been outspoken about the dangers and risks linked to Arctic energy development. Bearing in mind the enormous challenges of cleaning up an oil spill in icy conditions, the greatest concern is what kind of impact such a disaster would have on the fragile Arctic ecosystem.

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