Back in 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released an assessment of Arctic undiscovered, technically recoverable, conventional oil and natural gas resources. In so doing, the USGS estimated undiscovered resources for 25 Arctic sedimentary provinces. Overall, USGS estimated 412.16 Bboe of resources. Among the world’s undiscovered resources, this represents 13% of the oil, 30% of the gas and 20% of the NGLs.
USGS also said that the West Siberian basin and East Barents basin, both in Russian territory, hold 47% of the undiscovered resources, with 94% being natural gas and NGLs. So, it’s not a surprise that the Russians are leading the way in exploring for, and developing, Arctic hydrocarbons. Back in late 2013, Russia’s Gazprom initiated the world’s first Arctic oil production at Prirazlomnoye field, which continues to produce today. The potential in the Arctic Alaska province, by the way, was estimated at 29.96 Bbbl of oil, 221.40 Tcf of gas and 5.90 Bbbl of NGLs.
Meanwhile, the significance of Arctic potential, coupled with Russian initiatives, led the Norwegians in 2010 to strike a border deal in the Barents Sea with Moscow. Yet, there are credible rumors that the Norwegians remain highly wary of Russian intentions in the Arctic, so much so that they drilled a record 14 wells in the region during 2014, including several “to plant the flag” in the southeastern portion of their jurisdiction, near the border with Russia. And this year, plans call for a record-breaking 16 Norwegian Arctic exploration wells, including one by Statoil at the Korpfjell prospect near the Russian border. Korpfjell may hold up to 10 Bboe of resources.