Offshore Oil in the Alaskan Arctic

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Science  27 Jul 1984:
Vol. 225, Issue 4660, pp. 371-378
DOI: 10.1126/science.225.4660.371


Oil and gas deposits in the Alaskan Arctic are estimated to contain up to 40 percent of the remaining undiscovered crude oil and oil-equivalent nature gas within U.S. jurisdiction. Most (65 to 70 percent) of these estimated reserves are believed to occur offshore beneath the shallow, ice-covered seas, of the Alaskan continental shelf. Offshore recovery operations for such areas are far from routine, with the primary problems associated with the presence of ice. Some problems that must be resolved if efficient, cost-effective, environmentally safe, year-round offshore production is to be achieved include the accurate estimation of ice forces on offshore structures, the proper placement of pipelines beneath ice-produced gouges in the sea floor, and the cleanup of oil spills in pack ice areas.