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Just How Much Energy Lies Beneath The Arctic

The Arctic has been the fascination of many people for centuries.

Hundreds of years ago, the Europeans saw the Arctic’s frigid waters as a potential gateway to the Pacific. The region has also been home to many unique native cultures such as the Inuits and Chukchi. Lastly, it goes without saying that the Arctic is unsurpassed in many aspects of its natural beauty, and lovers of the environment are struck by the region’s millions of acres of untouched land and natural habitats.

However, as VisualCapitalist.com's Jeff Desjardins notes, the Arctic is also one of the last frontiers of natural resource discovery, and underneath the tundra and ice are vast amounts of undiscovered oil, natural gas, and minerals. That’s why there is a high-stakes race for Arctic domination between countries such as the United States, Norway, Russia, Denmark, and Canada.

Related: Mexico’s Clean Energy Market Is Surging

Today’s infographic highlights the size of some of these resources in relation to global reserves to help create context around the potential significance of this untapped wealth.

(Click to enlarge)

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

In terms of oil, it’s estimated that the Arctic has 90 billion barrels of oil that is yet to be discovered. That’s equal to 5.9 percent of the world’s known oil reserves – about 110 percent of Russia’s current oil reserves, or 339 percent of U.S. reserves.

For natural gas, the potential is even higher: the Arctic has an estimated 1,669 trillion cubic feet of gas, equal to 24.3 percent of the world’s current known reserves. That’s equal to 500 percent of U.S. reserves, 99 percent of Russia’s reserves, or 2,736 percent of Canada’s natural gas reserves.

Most of these hydrocarbon resources, about 84 percent, are expected to lay offshore.

There are also troves of metals and minerals, including gold, diamonds, copper, iron, zinc, and uranium. However, these are not easy to get at. Starting a mine in the Arctic can be an iceberg of costs: short shipping seasons, melting permafrost, summer swamps, polar bears, and -50 degree temperatures make the Arctic tough to be economic.

By Zerohedge

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  • Lee James on April 17 2016 said:
    "Leaving it (oil resource) in the ground" must sound very strange to the ears of investors and developers. But maybe it sounds more reasonable to leave polar resources, in particular, where they lay.

    "If we don't bring in the resource, somebody else will." Without world demand for the oil resource, the cost for bringing in the resource -- all of the associated costs and risks -- will be seen as prohibitive. Hopefully, alternatives to burning fossil fuel will help reduce our desire to take from this region. And certainly deferring on Arctic extraction and transport is the course regulatory bodies increasingly take.

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