NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 9, 2006

The studies of Arctic sediment that appear in the journal Nature tell a dramatic story of polar warming and cooling over millions of years. But what they tell petroleum geologists may be just as striking, says the New York Times.

For example:

  • Some scientists involved in the work said the huge amounts of organic material from dead algae and plants embedded in the ancient sedimentary layers suggested that the center of the Arctic Ocean could hold vast oil deposits.
  • Several of the researchers said they were reluctant to focus on that aspect of the work, saying it would be unfortunate if their climate studies prompted new oil exploration that could liberate more greenhouse gases and further warm the climate.
  • If the oil exists, it would probably take decades to develop techniques for exploiting such mid-ocean deposits, according to Henk Brinkhuis of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Oil companies are clearly interested in what may lie beneath the sea, says Kathryn Moran, a professor of ocean engineering at the University of Rhode Island, who was a chief scientist on the drilling project that led to the new studies. Moran says she was recently invited by BP, the giant oil company, to present a talk to 30 petroleum geologists. "They've definitely taken note," she says.

Source: Andrew Revkin, "Hints of Oil Bonanzas Beneath Arctic Ocean," New York Times, June 1, 2006.


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