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US says Arctic holds 90 billion barrels of oil

The area north of the Arctic Circle has an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil, according to a new assessment by the US Geological Survey (USGS).

Also among the Artic bonanza are 1,670 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas and 44 billion barrels of technically recoverable natural gas liquids, says the USGS assessment.

There natural resources are distributed in 25 geologically defined areas thought to have potential for petroleum, according to the assessment, which is the first publicly available petroleum resource estimate of the entire area north of the Arctic Circle.

These resources account for about 22% of the undiscovered, technically recoverable resources in the world. The Arctic accounts for about 13% of the undiscovered oil, 30% of the undiscovered natural gas, and 20% of the undiscovered natural gas liquids in the world. About 84% of the estimated resources are expected to occur offshore.

“Before we can make decisions about our future use of oil and gas and related decisions about protecting endangered species, native communities and the health of our planet, we need to know what's out there,” said USGS Director Mark Myers. “With this assessment, we're providing the same information to everyone in the world so that the global community can make those difficult decisions.”

Of the estimated totals, more than half of the undiscovered oil resources are estimated to occur in just three geologic provinces - Arctic Alaska, the Amerasia Basin, and the East Greenland Rift Basins. On an oil-equivalency basis, undiscovered natural gas is estimated to be three times more abundant than oil in the Arctic. More than 70% of the undiscovered natural gas is estimated to occur in three provinces - the West Siberian Basin, the East Barents Basins, and Arctic Alaska, the assessment shows.

Till now, exploration for petroleum has already resulted in the discovery of more than 400 oil and gas fields north of the Arctic Circle. These fields account for approximately 40 billion barrels of oil, more than 1,100 trillion cubic feet of gas, and 8.5 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. (Xinhua)