Oil and Gas Possibilities in the Soviet Arctic1
Published:January 01, 1973
The Soviet Arctic, including the continental shelf, occupies about one third of the area of the entire Soviet Union. Within this area, major platform structures with thick sedimentary sections are developed. These structures are the West Siberian and Pechora plates and the Siberian, Barents-Kara, and Hyperborean platforms. All the known oil and gas areas and the most prospective territories and shelves are related to these platforms. Areas favorable for petroleum exploration make up 60-70 percent or more of this area.
The largest prospective area is the West Siberian oil and gas area. In the Arctic part of the West Siberian province, a unique gas field was discovered (Urengoy, 4.1 × 1012 cu m). Productive and prospective units are known to range through the Jurassic to the Upper Cretaceous (another field is Medvezh'ye, 1.6 × 1012 cu m). Prospective structures for oil and gas extend from the land into the southern part of the Kara shelf.
In the Timan-Pechora oil and gas area, several oil and gas fields have been discovered. Productive and prospective strata are the middle-upper Paleozoic and possibly the Mesozoic. Structures favorable for oil and gas accumulation continue into the southern areas of the Barents shelf.
The high petroleum possibilities for the northern part of the Siberian platform and the bordering Mesozoic troughs are confirmed by the discovery of gas fields in the western part of the Yenisey-Khatanga basin and oil fields in the eastern part of the basin. In addition, a large bitumen field (similar to Atha-baska) is located on the southern border of the Lena-Anabar syneclise, and abundant oil and bitumen shows occur through the whole section from the upper Precambrian to the Lower Cretaceous.
The Mesozoic-Cenozoic troughs and depressions of the Verkhoyansk-Kolyma, Koryak-Kamchatka, and Chu-kotsk areas in the northeastern part of the USSR are prospective for oil and gas.
The high estimate of the oil and gas possibilities for the offshore shelves is based on the favorable geological and geophysical facts from the Soviet Arctic islands and shelf. The most prospective are structures within the Barents-Kara platform; the West Siberian trough; the Chukotsk-East Siberian, southern Chukotsk, and southern Laptev basins; and the Wrangel Rise.
Figures & Tables
Following the discovery of Prudhoe Bay oil field in 1968, much attention was turned to the Arctic in the search for giant hydrocarbon accumulations. The Soviets had already proved giant reserves in their West Siberian Basin, and exploration was moving ahead quickly in the Canadian Arctic. Plans were drawn up for an AAPG Symposium on Arctic Geology and held in February 1971. Papers were selected from the Symposium for this publication and cover seven topical groupings: Regional Arctic Geology of Canada, Regional Arctic Geology of the Nordic Countries, Regional Arctic Geology of the USSR, Regional Arctic Geology of Alaska, Comparisons in the North Atlantic Borders, Evolution of the Arctic Ocean Basin, and Economics of Petroleum Exploration and Production in the Arctic.