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Promise Of U.S. Arctic Oil & Natural Gas Resources

In response to a Department of Energy October 25, 2013 request, the National Petroleum Council conducted a comprehensive study considering the research and technology opportunities to enable prudent development of U.S. Arctic oil and gas resources. Today, there is both increasing interest in the Arctic for economic opportunity, and concern about the future of the culture of the Arctic peoples and the environment in the face of changing climate and increased human activity. Other nations, such as Russia and China, are moving forward with Arctic economic development. Facilitating exploration and development in the U.S. Arctic would enhance national, economic, and energy security, benefit the people of the North and the U.S. as a whole, and position the U.S. to exercise global leadership.

The Council findings include:

  • The U.S. has large Arctic oil and gas potential that can contribute significantly to meeting future U.S. and global energy needs. The majority of the U.S. Arctic potential is undiscovered and offshore, in relatively shallow water depths of less than 100 meters.
  • The technology to explore for and develop the majority of this U.S. potential is available today, based on a long history of technology development and extensions already applied in the U.S. and global Arctic. 
  • After decades of research, much is known about the physical, ecological, and human environment, and sufficient information is available to pursue exploration.
  • Developing the U.S. oil and gas potential requires an economically viable discovery. Current U.S. regulatory practices, adapted from other non-Arctic U.S. regions where activities can occur year-round, are limiting Arctic exploration activity. 
  • Realizing the promise of U.S. Arctic oil and gas resources requires public confidence that the opportunity can be safely pursued while ensuring environmental stewardship. Industry and government share the responsibility of securing and maintaining this public confidence. 
  • There have been significant recent technology advances in oil spill prevention and response. Application of these technologies in the U.S. Arctic could improve environmental stewardship and reduce cost, by safely extending the time available for exploration drilling.

See complete study: Arctic Potential: Realizing the Promise of U.S. Arctic Oil and Gas Resources