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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Arctic Holds One-Third of World's Undiscovered Natural Gas Reserves

May 29, 2009 - Xinhua News Agency-Rigzone - The Arctic region may be home to 30 percent of the planet's undiscovered natural gas reserves and most of them are in Russian territory, an international team lead by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said Thursday. This is the first-ever comprehensive assessment of undiscovered oil and gas reserves within the Arctic Circle. Report about the findings will appear in Friday's edition of the journal Science. According to the report, two-thirds of the undiscovered gas is in just four areas -- South Kara Sea, North Barents Basin, South Barents Basin and the Alaska Platform. In fact, the South Kara Sea off Siberia contains 39 percent of the Arctic's undiscovered gas. The report also estimated that the Arctic also contains 3 percent to 4 percent of the world's oil resources remaining to be discovered. "It would not mean that there would be any kind of a significant shift in global oil balance," said Donald L. Gautier, lead author of the report. "But this is especially significant for the Arctic nations." Nations whose borders lie within the Arctic Circle are Canada, Greenland/Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States. Although it's closer to North America, Greenland is considered part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Using geological analysis and probability modeling, researchers mapped out sedimentary rock deposits to estimate the amount of undiscovered oil and gas beneath undersea continental shelves. Researchers say that deep ocean basins have relatively low petroleum potential, but the Arctic is one of the world's largest remaining areas where oil and gas are accessible. Most of the reserves are projected to be in less than 500 meters of water -- roughly a third of a mile deep. "Based on our study, there are 40 (billion) to 160 billion barrels of oil north of the Arctic Circle," said Gautier, of the Geological Survey's office in Menlo Park, California. The USGS had previously estimated the Arctic is home to 90 billion barrels of oil. The Energy Information Administration, a division of the Department of Energy, estimates that the world currently uses 30 billion barrels of oil a year.

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