The hard-to-reach arctic shelf

Russian Federation holds the world largest stock of natural gas and eighth-largest oil reserves. Also, Russia is occupying position of a major world gas exporter and second major oil exporter. Russia provides about 30% of the world gas production. Explored reserves of the «blue-sky fuel» are about 48 trillion m3 and theirs lion’s share is concentrated in Western Siberia. Deposits with total of 4 trillion m3 of gas were found on the Northern seas shelf; approximately the same amount is concentrated in the Eastern Siberia and Far East. Further exploration works with greatest probability will lead to discovery of new rich hydrocarbon deposits.

Russia has prepared the program of regional geological study of the oil-and-gas content and subsurface management on the continental shelf until 2020. Strategic regions of geological oil and gas survey during the period until 2010 are waters of the Barents Sea, the Kara Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. Later on, major works will be carried out in the hard-to-reach Eastern Arctic regions. This will increase perspective shelf area by 500 thousand km2 for searching and exploring oil and gas and will lead to creation of the base for growth of the raw material resources. Exploration works according to the program will help to keep Russia’s leading positions in the global mineral-rough supplying of fuel-energy materials inventory.

The hard-to-reach arctic shelf

Russia’s amount of profitable oil resource in the north waters is in total about 4 billions tons or 60% of all the technically reachable resources and 40% of all the extracted resources. At the same time more than 90% of them are concentrated in the Western Arctic waters. Highly remunerative oil resources are of extrinsic value, theirs volume is 0.8 billion tons. This group of resources is forecasted in the Pechora sea thus considering it as a priority exploration. The volume of normally remunerative oil resources is 10 times more than the volume of highly remunerative oil resources; this group of resources is forecasted in the Pechora Sea and the Kara Sea and is considered as the second echelon of the Arctic shelf hydrocarbon resources exploration.

The amount of technically reachable natural gas resources in the Russian waters is estimated as 40 trillions m3 and form 56% of all extracted resources. At the same time more than a half of them are profitable. The major part of them is forecasted in the Barents Sea and the Kara Sea. Eastern Arctic shelf regions do not have now profitable gas resources due to extreme natural and climatic conditions and lack of the required infrastructure.

The hard-to-reach arctic shelf

Large source of hydrocarbon materials reserve for the 21st and 22nd centuries is shelf of the southern Kara Sea part adjacent to Western shore of the Yamal peninsula. By scientists estimate, this large oil-and-gas bearing region of the Western Siberia Northern part holds prospective resources of oil equivalent in the amount of 56 trillion m3. There are no other regions containing such concentration of unexplored hydrocarbons in Russia. Specialist’s estimates reveal the high probability of gas resources exploration in the Kara oil-and-gas bearing region in the amount of not less than 15 trillion м3 by 2015.

According to expert opinion from “Gazprom” OJSC exploration, prospection and provision of the necessary facilities for the hydrocarbon deposits on the Kara shelf should be started without delay. Such strategic planning will increase state gas production by 2025–2030 up to 800 billion m3 per year thus provide sufficient fuel for internal needs and possibility for supplying the foreign market.

The hard-to-reach arctic shelf

No matter what difficulties should be handled during North seas shelf development, extraction of its rich resources can lead to a great economical impact. Total state rental income from development of Arctic region oil and gas resources can be more than 120 billion dollars. At the same time prospect evaluation survey, provision of the necessary facilities for the deposits, development of the industrial and transport infrastructure should be carried out at the expense of the investors under state coordination and control. Investment capacity of this range of works can be 12–14 billion dollars concerning oil and 20–22 billion dollars concerning gas.

However, in order to produce hydrocarbon from the North sea depths and to provide transportation of raw materials there must be solved infinitely many complicated scientific and technical tasks.

Prepared by Olga Loskutova
Using materials of International conference RAO/CIS Offshore and 6th International forum “Fuel and Energy Complex of Russia”.

Go to Index of # 1(19) 2007


# 1(19), 2007
Ocean and shelf exploration