Hydrocarbon Resources of the Chukchi Sea Coastal Shelf Zone
Hydrocarbon Resources of the Chukchi Sea Coastal Shelf Zone – the Chukchi Sea includes two petroleum basins: the North Chukotka Petroleum Basin and the South Chukotka Petroleum Basin located to the northeast and southeast of the Wrangel Island in hard-to-access areas with extreme ice conditions. The South Chukotka Petroleum Basin is composed of volcanic-alluvial Cretaceous-Paleogene rock formations up to 4–5 km thick. The oil and gas potential of the South Chukotka Petroleum Basin is due to a high possibility of oil and gas generation and accumulation in its deeply submerged central part. The North Chukotka Petroleum Basin is formed in the extensive sublatitudinal downwarping of the southern slope of the hyperborean platform. The North Chukotka Petroleum Basin contains carbonate-terrigenous Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic deposits 4–12 km thick. The eastern part of the North Chukotka Petroleum Basin adjoins the Alaska North Slope Basin with its proven oil and gas reserves, which increases the possibility of discovering oil and gas deposits in the North Chukotka Petroleum Basin.
The report made by the US Secretary of Energy in 2008 offers the assumption that the outer part of the Chukchi Sea coastal shelf zone contains 10 billion barrels of oil and 1.4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. In 2008 – for the first time in 17 years – the first licenses to develop the Outer Continental Chukchi Sea Shelf were sold to oil and gas companies. Royal Dutch Shell has bought 275 license blocks. Statoil ASA (Norway) and Eni S.p.A. (Italy) joined in as well. As a result, seven companies bought 5,354 license blocks. In the eastern coastal area of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug outside the Khatyrka Rural Settlement, three marginal fields have been discovered: upper Echinsk, Uglovoye, and upper Telekajsk. The ultimately recoverable oil resources for the three fields total 2.5 million tons. Following a reassessment, the said oil reserves have been written off as noncommercial. So far, no hydrocarbon resources have been discovered in the Russian part of the Chukchi Sea coastal shelf zone.