Massive cost, forbidden terrain and unimaginable reward—this is the Arctic, where interest has waxed and waned over the past decade, but a flurry of activity from unexpected quarters is bringing back online. This time we can expect a coordinated, multi-national interest.
For all intents and purposes, we have global warming to thank for the renewed interest that has catapulted the Arctic to the top of a handful of national oil and gas agendas. But there is also the fact that the Arctic is estimated to hold around 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30% of its undiscovered natural gas—all buried in frozen, forbidden terrain.
The list of countries interested is not what one would expect: Aside from the obvious, it includes India, China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Italy.
This has all culminated in the formation of what is now called the Arctic Council, which serves as an intergovernmental body to address oil and gas exploration and exploitation and includes all of the above-mentioned countries as either members or with observer status.
The European Union, desperate to become less dependent on Russia, is also eyeing a seat on the Arctic Council, but hasn’t been granted one yet.
US interest is also picking up—but it’s a “quiet” subject in Washington compared with the power corridors of other countries on the Council. There have been a number of high-level meetings on the Arctic. In…