The Next Frontier

As we have now entered the International Polar Year (see also page 72), we should expect a strong focus on the development of fossil fuels in northern latitudes for the years to come.
This article appeared in Vol. 4, No. 2 - 2007


The oil industry will, on the other hand, be very keen on getting a better estimate of the Arctic oil and gas potential. Some of the major companies are thus likely to put pressure on governmental bodies to open up for geological and geophysical studies as well as exploratory drilling.  

The Arctic is well known for its harsh climate and icy conditions and the resulting operational difficulties. By experience we know that these will all be overcome. Technological challenges will be solved in due time. There are certain advantages with the Arctic frontier. Only five countries (USA, Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway and Russia) are bordering this huge area (six, if we include Iceland), and they are all blessed with democratic governments. They are also lacking dominating national oil companies that are nationalising the resources and making them unavailable to the international oil companies. The exception, you will argue, is Russia. May be so, but many international oil companies have a strong presence, and Russia has a need to take advantage of the technological developments in the western countries. Isolation is not an option if they want to exploit their resources. For the patient oil company, with a strong capital base and a vision of being in business several decades from now, the Arctic may very well represent an exciting future.


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