Preliminary Geospatial Analysis of Arctic Ocean Hydrocarbon Resources

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Ice coverage of the Arctic Ocean is predicted to become thinner and to cover less area with time. The combination of more ice-free waters for exploration and navigation, along with increasing demand for hydrocarbons and improvements in technologies for the discovery and exploitation of new hydrocarbon resources have focused attention on the hydrocarbon potential of the Arctic Basin and its margins. The purpose of this document is to 1) summarize results of a review of published hydrocarbon resources in the Arctic, including both conventional oil and gas and methane hydrates and 2) develop a set of digital maps of the ... continued below

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Long, Philip E.; Wurstner, Signe K.; Sullivan, E. C.; Schaef, Herbert T. & Bradley, Donald J. October 1, 2008.

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Ice coverage of the Arctic Ocean is predicted to become thinner and to cover less area with time. The combination of more ice-free waters for exploration and navigation, along with increasing demand for hydrocarbons and improvements in technologies for the discovery and exploitation of new hydrocarbon resources have focused attention on the hydrocarbon potential of the Arctic Basin and its margins. The purpose of this document is to 1) summarize results of a review of published hydrocarbon resources in the Arctic, including both conventional oil and gas and methane hydrates and 2) develop a set of digital maps of the hydrocarbon potential of the Arctic Ocean. These maps can be combined with predictions of ice-free areas to enable estimates of the likely regions and sequence of hydrocarbon production development in the Arctic. In this report, conventional oil and gas resources are explicitly linked with potential gas hydrate resources. This has not been attempted previously and is particularly powerful as the likelihood of gas production from marine gas hydrates increases. Available or planned infrastructure, such as pipelines, combined with the geospatial distribution of hydrocarbons is a very strong determinant of the temporal-spatial development of Arctic hydrocarbon resources. Significant unknowns decrease the certainty of predictions for development of hydrocarbon resources. These include: 1) Areas in the Russian Arctic that are poorly mapped, 2) Disputed ownership: primarily the Lomonosov Ridge, 3) Lack of detailed information on gas hydrate distribution, and 4) Technical risk associated with the ability to extract methane gas from gas hydrates. Logistics may control areas of exploration more than hydrocarbon potential. Accessibility, established ownership, and leasing of exploration blocks may trump quality of source rock, reservoir, and size of target. With this in mind, the main areas that are likely to be explored first are the Bering Strait and Chukchi Sea, in spite of the fact that these areas do not have highest potential for future hydrocarbon reserves. Opportunities for improving the mapping and assessment of Arctic hydrocarbon resources include: 1) Refining hydrocarbon potential on a basin-by-basin basis, 2) Developing more realistic and detailed distribution of gas hydrate, and 3) Assessing the likely future scenarios for development of infrastructure and their interaction with hydrocarbon potential. It would also be useful to develop a more sophisticated approach to merging conventional and gas hydrate resource potential that considers the technical uncertainty associated with exploitation of gas hydrate resources. Taken together, additional work in these areas could significantly improve our understanding of the exploitation of Arctic hydrocarbons as ice-free areas increase in the future.

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  • Report No.: PNNL-17922
  • Grant Number: AC05-76RL01830
  • DOI: 10.2172/958008 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 958008
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc934937

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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Creation Date

  • October 1, 2008

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Dec. 9, 2016, 8:20 p.m.

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Long, Philip E.; Wurstner, Signe K.; Sullivan, E. C.; Schaef, Herbert T. & Bradley, Donald J. Preliminary Geospatial Analysis of Arctic Ocean Hydrocarbon Resources, report, October 1, 2008; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc934937/: accessed April 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.