Arctic Region Presents Exploration and Production Possibilities
Beginning in the 1970s, oil and natural gas fields have been discovered throughout the Arctic region. The
With harsh winter conditions lasting the majority of the year in the Arctic, drilling operations are typically completed during the June to September months. Sea ice remains a continued threat, even throughout the warmer months, as the ice may take several days to pass through, potentially damaging equipment and vessels at the site.
Another challenge facing Arctic exploration and production remains the lack of sound pipeline infrastructure. Due to the extreme temperatures of the ground, ranging from 12°F to 16°F (-11°C to -9°C), it remains difficult to transport crude oil once extracted. The Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System (TAPS) is one of the world’s largest systems stretching 800 miles, remaining the best mode to transport crude resources in this region since beginning operations in 1977.
Today, TAPS currently runs at less than one-third of its full capacity due to severe weather and to the decline in production from aging oil fields. This pipeline currently carries approximately 11 percent of U.S. domestic oil production, equating to 560,000 barrels per day. Moving forward with additional drilling opportunities in the Arctic region would increase the production flow through TAPS and boost U.S. production levels.
As this year’s Artic exploration season comes to an end, the potential benefits of future production from this region will freeze until the warmer months of 2013.