According to the United States Geological Survey, the Arctic likely contains 1/5 of the world’s undiscovered oil and natural gas, or 90 billion barrels of oil reserves and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
In a cruel twist of fate, global warming, which is believed to be causing the ice caps to melt, is opening up many areas that were previously too harsh for exploration.
An arms race for control of these extremely valuable resources had already begun between such “Arctic” countries as the United States (via Alaska), Canada, and Russia. In fact, many of the potentially most oil-rich areas are already under territorial claims.
Unfortunately, even these vast reserves won’t suddenly solve any long-term energy crises. At today’s (ever-growing) consumption rate, the potential oil doesn’t even meet 3 years worth of global demand. If the US were to control much of it, that might help us make our own addiction more affordable. But if the controversy surrounding ANWR (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) is any indication, expect a tidal wave of environmental protest that will delay development and production for years, if not decades. The study says there is approximately 30 billion barrels of oil off the coast of Alaska, 3 times the amount contained in ANWR alone.