A US geological survey report this week has heightened decades-old expectations that the Arctic region has immense oil and natural gas wealth. It provides firm, lucrative numbers — for the first time — and says the region may be home to one-fifth of the world’s still undiscovered oil and gas reserves.
That’s a sure enough reason for a massive step-up of interests in tapping these opportunities that are largely present off the shores of Alaska, US, and Russia.
Before we think this can prove wrong the peak oil theorists who argue new production possibilities are drying up while demand is expanding fast — there is a big question mark.
The environmental costs of interfering in the highly ecologically sensitive region could be significant. We mustn’t forget it is the rapid melting of ice in those areas — thanks to global warming — that will make extraction feasible.
The world simply can’t afford to ignore that fact.