The economic potential of petroleum production from Alaska and other possibly productive areas in the North American Arctic regions is significant. There are basic distinctions between economic and geologic potential, and between exploration, development, and production costs for petroleum. Further distinctions exist between fixed and variable costs, between short run and long-run costs, and between those expenditures which represent outlays for the purchase of actual goods and services (labor, materials, capital goods) and those expenditures which do not (lease bonuses and rentals, royalties, and various faxes). Projected production levels for North American Arctic oil for 1920 range from 5.2 million bbl per day at a price of $2.30 per barrel to 9.9 million bbl per day at a price of $4.44 per barrel.
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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.