Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The race to claim ownership of oil and gas-rich areas in the Arctic has been charted for the first time in a map showing the potential territorial ambitions of interested states.

Researchers from Durham University's International Boundaries Research Unit (IBRU) produced the map to illustrate current boundaries, possible future claims and potential disputes in the region.

Last year a Russian submarine planted a flag on the ocean floor underneath the North Pole, in a bold gesture highlighting its claim to a huge chunk of the frozen land.

Other disputes involve Canada, USA, Denmark, Iceland and Norway.

Martin Pratt, director of research at IBRU, said he thinks the race for resources is the key motivation for states. He said a new survey by the US Geological Survey estimates that a fifth of the world's undiscovered, technically-recoverable resources lie within the Arctic Circle.

"We are talking 90 million barrels of oil, nearly 17 hundred trillion cubic feet. I mean I cannot even imagine how much that is, but it is a lot," Mr Pratt said. "I suppose for any state, control over hydrocarbons is significant as other resources dwindle."

He said Russia could be particularly attracted to the region's potential for oil and gas extraction because it already has a well developed gas infrastructure.

Areas of the Arctic, once frozen all year round, now melt in the warmer months, allowing investigations in the region that were not possible before.

"The other aspect is the melting of the polar ice and that is making it easier to explore the area which is why the oil and gas industry is looking at it," he said. "It is now becoming a potential area of development rather than a hypothetical one."

But he said this was likely to cause concern about the "unique environment" in the Arctic. "It is vulnerable and extracting oil and gas is not an environmentally friendly activity." Source

I felt obliged to add this comment!

Even if it's 90 BILLION barrels it is little more than 3 years' worth at current rates of consumption (86 million barrels per day). It will be very expensive to produce (the arctic is still pretty cold and dangerous for half the year or more), it will cost a fortune to transport, this is also the gross yield - huge amounts of energy will be expended getting it out. My best guess is that this will actually supply about a year's worth of energy - and as such would be a total waste of time and effort. This is before any further negative effects from climate change are factored in, many of which will need energy to correct/contain.

What it does reveal is the absolutely desperate position we are all in over energy supplies. It's pretty clear from this that Peak Oil has already passed the real danger point and that we're all going to learn to live with far more expensive energy and, often, no energy at all.

By their actions governments and oil companies reveal that they are desperately worried, but don't have the guts to tell us directly.

The real answer is energy efficiency and conservation, massive investment in renewables and a huge increase (as a stopgap as uranium is rapidly running out) in nuclear generating capacity. Don't let the hippies, tories and Daily Mail reader socialist scum dictate the agenda - they don't have a clue what they're talking about!
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