Melting Arctic Opens Profit Opportunities for Oil, Gold, Tourism

Monday, April 05, 2010
(photo: Greepeace)

Less ice in the Arctic Ocean means more opportunities for all kinds of industries, from tourism to natural resources. A new report to Congress says global warming is likely to result in more exploration for oil and natural gas once the summer ice near the North Pole thins enough in coming years. Companies running cruise ship lines also will benefit from new sea lanes opening up.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the Arctic Circle could contain 90 billion barrels of oil, about 1,700 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.
In addition to oil and gas, “shrinking glaciers onshore could expose land containing economic deposits of gold, iron ore, or other minerals that were previously covered by glacial ice,” reads the Congressional Research Service (CRS) report prepared by naval affairs specialist Ronald O’Rourke..
Not all the news is good for natural resource exploitation. The CRS points out that melting permafrost could pose problems for ground structures, including pipelines, causing them to sink and become unstable.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress (by Ronald O'Rourke, Congressional Research Service) (pdf)


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