Arctic draws oil money with stability, shallow seas

Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:49am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

* Arctic development carries less political risk but technically difficult

* Alaska's Beaufort, Chukchi Seas shallow by modern offshore standards

* Oil there is twice Shell's existing oil and gas producing base

* Costs now comparable to deepwater drilling

By Yereth Rosen and Gwladys Fouche

ANCHORAGE/OSLO, Feb 12 (Reuters) - It may not be this year, but Royal Dutch/Shell and other oil companies will be back to drill in northern Alaska's seas, drawn by political stability and shallow waters.

Weary of Middle Eastern turbulence, alarmed by Argentina's nationalisation of Spanish group Repsol's assets, and shocked by the Islamist siege of an Algerian gas plant, companies are looking to unexploited parts of the Arctic.

Drilling in the cold, remote waters is technologically difficult and expensive but dwindling reserves elsewhere have forced oil firms to look deeper offshore, which is also costly.

Alaskan seas so shallow a walrus can hunt on the bottom are now looking competitive and the prize is an estimated 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its gas.   Continued...