Arctic Holds 100B Barrels of Oil in Unexplored Fields

MADRID (Dow Jones Newswires), June 30, 2008

The Arctic holds 100 billion barrels of oil in unexplored fields, a government geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey said Monday at an international oil industry gathering in Spain.

"The Arctic is almost completely unexplored," said Donald Gautier at the World Petroleum Congress in Madrid. "There are 100 billion barrels of oil to be found in the Arctic."

Gautier said that throughout the world "our best guess is still that there is a 50-50 chance that there is an excess of 500 billion barrels of conventional recoverable oil in undisclosed fields as of now."

The disputed ownership of the Arctic is the biggest barrier to the development of this oil resources, not a lack of technology, Gautier said.

"The real issue in the Arctic is access to those continental shelves," he said.

Five countries that border the Arctic Ocean - Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the U.S. - dispute the sovereignty of the region's waters.

Earlier this month BP PLC (BP), ConocoPhillips (COP) and MGM Energy Corp. (MGX.T) were awarded exploration rights by the Canadian government for three offshore blocks in the Arctic region in a lease sale.

The U.S. Geological Survey is a unit of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

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