Ice oil

Global warming in the Arctic (and Siberia): a good deal for oil (and gas)

Global warming does not only have drawbacks… indeed; it will "allow" the exploitation of new zones or the establishment of new trade routes such as Northwest Passage.

The global warming observed in recent years in the Arctic worries many people around the world but some would rather rejoice in the oil industry in Greenland, because it could promote the exploration of black gold in this island.

Greenland, a Danish overseas territory, whose waters are frozen for much of the year, has long cherished the hope of finding oil, which would provide it with a providential windfall to ensure its total independence from the Denmark.

The 6 boreholes carried out so far in the waters of the island (1976-77 and 1990) have not made it possible to find oil or deposits sufficiently profitable to be exploited.

But Greenland officials remain optimistic, placing their hopes in Canadian company EnCana Corporation, which last January won 87,5% of an offshore oil and gas license in West Greenland.

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In 2002, EnCana Corporation had already obtained a license to explore and exploit hydrocarbons between the 63rd and the 68th parallel.

The current license covers an area, mostly ice-free, located between the 62nd and 69th parallel, 250 km west of Nuuk, the capital.

"EnCana, designated as operator, plans by 2008, in cooperation with other partners that it is looking for, to do two wells to find out if there is oil, and in sufficient quantity to be exploited", declared to AFP Joern Skov Nielsen, Head of Division, at the Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum in Nuuk.

"And when we know that a single drilling costs between 250 and 300 million Danish crowns (33,6 to 40,3 M EUR), it shows that EnCana believes that there are large reserves of hydrocarbons in the region, confirmed by previous seismological analyzes ”he underlined.

Warming in the Arctic, which is twice as fast as the rest of the planet, and rising oil prices have encouraged EnCana to "take risks," according to Nielsen.

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"This warming trend will continue, which means that there will be less ice on the sea, and it will therefore be easier and less expensive to explore the seabed," he said.

The Bureau of Raw Materials made projections on the basis of geological research showing that “the discovery of an exploitable oil field of 2 billion barrels during its operating life (30 to 40 years) would bring in some 70 billion DKK (9,4 , EUR XNUMX billion) in royalties in Greenland ”.

The Greenlandic local government decided to launch in 2006-2007 a 4th round of concessions a little further north, near Disko Bay, which is home to the fjord and the Ilulissat glacier, classified in 2004 as a World Heritage Site. Unesco.

Seismic analyzes undertaken previously have revealed traces of oil on land where "oil leaks have been observed in rocks in Disko Bay", according to Mr. Nielsen, suggesting "even greater chances of finding oil. oil ".

This project is already causing great concern to Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund, who fear for the survival of whales, shrimps and seabirds in the region.

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“The Raw Materials Bureau, in cooperation with DMU, ​​the Danish National Institute for Environmental Research, has undertaken to examine the entire ecosystem to ensure that any oil prospecting does not cause damage to the environment. the environment, ”said Mr. Nielsen.

"This arctic environment is very fragile, and this area affected by the next call for tenders for licenses, contains a wide variety of animals that we must protect, because oil leaks would cause irreparable damage", warned Jesper. Madsen, Greenland expert.

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