Photo: Yurkharovskoe Field
The whole Arctic zone of Russia is a huge resource pool for the country and is one of the few regions in the world where there are virtually untouched hydrocarbon and mineral reserves. In relatively small areas there are concentrations of the largest mineral deposits.
Potential oil and gas-bearing regions make up about 90% of the total shelf area of Russia - 5.2 - 6.2 million km2. This includes 2 million km2 in the Western Arctic on the shelves of the Barents and Kara Seas, where there are potential hydrocarbon resources of 50 - 60 billion cubic metres and 1 million km2 on the shelf of the Laptev Sea, the East Siberian and Chukchi seas and the Eastern Arctic. There are huge projected oil and gas reserves in the Timan-Pechora, Yenisei-Laptev, Barents-Kara and Indigirka-Chukotka oil and gas provinces, as well as the South Yamal, Lena-Anabar and Anadyr oil and gas-bearing regions.
Photo: Oil platform on the Arctic shelf
On the shelf of the Barents Sea there are 11 fields, including four oil fields (Prirazlomnoe, Dolginskoe, Varandeyskoe and Medinskoe), 3 gas fields (Murmanskoe, Ludlovskoe and Severo-Kildinskoe), 3 gas condensate fields (Shtokman, Pomorskoe and Ledovoe) and 1 oil and gas condensate field (Severo-Gulyaevskoe). The Shtokman field alone, which is the largest in the world, contains about 4000 billion m3 of gas. In the Kara Sea there are gas condensate fields that are just as big - Leningradskoe and Rusanovskoe. There are more than 180 fields in the Timan-Pechora province. They include fountain deposits that provide up to 1000 tons of oil per day, which is comparable with the level of the best fields in Iraq.
The richest deposits of oil, gas and gas condensate have been explored in the Nenets Autonomous Region. The oil reserves of this subject of the Russian Federation are at the level of reserves of Norway, which is first in Western Europe in terms of its oil reserves. As for gas reserves, they are are at the same level as reserves in India, they are greater than those of Denmark and Germany put together and they constitute 11% of the reserves in Western Europe.
Photo: Oil production in the Arctic
The main oil and gas region of Russia and one of the largest oil-producing regions in the world is the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region. Despite the fact that the district is only 3% of Russia’s territory, it has been providing 57% of oil production in the country for many years. It has more than 500 oil and gas deposits, the reserves of which are approximately 20 billion tons. Projected oil reserves are estimated at 35 billion tons. In the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region there are such large oil and gas fields as Mamontovskoe, Samotlorskoe and Ust-Balykskoe.
Huge natural gas resources brought international recognition to the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region. The Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region is the largest gas producing region of Russia, which produces 90% of Russian gas and 22% of the world’s natural gas. The largest deposits in the world - Urengoyskoe, Zapolyarnoe, Medvezhe and Yamburgskoe will largely provide the domestic and export needs of Russia in the 21st Century. In the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region there are 32 hydrocarbon fields, four of them are on the shelf of the Gulf of Ob, two in the Kara Sea and the rest on land. It is planned that three industrial zones will be created for the integrated development of hydrocarbon reserves in the Yamal Peninsula - Bovanenkovskaya, Yuzhnaya and Tambeyskaya. The first to be put into the development in 2012 will be the largest field, Bovanenkovskoe. This means that in the long term the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region will keep its leading position in domestic gas production and one of the top positions in global production.
Photo: A diamond mine in Yakutia
The Arctic zone also contains unique and predicted resources of rare metals and other minerals. The main resources of copper and nickel, platinum and rare earth metals, tantalum, titanium, iron, niobium, base metals, phosphorus, fluorite, chromium, manganese, diamonds and gold are concentrated in the northern part of the Kola province. Platinum metals and copper-nickel ores are found in the northern part of the Taimyr-Norilsk province. Reserves of vanadium, molybdenum, tungsten, chromium, gold and base metals have been found in the Taimyr-Severnaya Zemlya province. In the Yakutsk and Anabar provinces there are diamonds, iron and rare metals. Platinum metals, phosphorus, niobium, iron and diamonds have been discovered in the Maimecha-Kotui and Udzhinsk provinces. In the Verkhoyansk and Yana-Chukotka provinces there is tin, mercury, gold, tungsten, molybdenum, copper, silver, platinum and complex metals.
Photo: Oil tanks
In the American sector of the Arctic oil reserves on the shelf of the Chukchi Sea are estimated at approximately 15 million barrels and gas reserves at more than 2 trillion m3. The Prudhoe Bay field on the northern coast of Alaska currently accounts for 20% of the oil production in the US. 49 oil and gas fields were discovered in the Canadian sector in the delta of the Mackenzie River and 15 fields on the Arctic Islands. The largest gas reserves are located off the coast of Alaska and Siberia.
It is clear that the Arctic segment of the Earth will become the main target for filling the oil and gas reserves not only for Russia but also other countries. Therefore, the interest of the Arctic countries in developing natural resources in the Arctic will only continue to grow and experts predict that the struggle between them for these resources will escalate in the future. This is to do with global warming and the depletion of oil fields in other parts of the Earth.
It is still important for Russia to maintain the broad front of research of the North, which is of great importance in developing the economic potential of this region and strengthening the country’s national defence. It is therefore necessary to create conditions that encourage investment from resource companies and provide guarantees that investments in geological exploration will be safeguarded.