What are the economic significances of discovery of oil in Arctic Sea and its possible environmental consequences

Q: What are the economic significances of discovery of oil in Arctic Sea and its possible environmental consequences?


  • According to U.S. Geological Survey estimates Arctic sea has 90 billion barrels of oil, 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. There may also be significant reserves of coal, zinc and silver.
  • This the discovery of oil in the Arctic sea can have wide range of opportunities for the world from various angles such as:
    1. Exploration of energy fuels will lead to energy security for world as world is facing resource scarcity.
    2. Exploring these resource will cater to growing needs of world economy and may reduce the price of oil.
    3. Oil exploration might add some revenue to arctic region.

However, discovery of these resources is likely to be associated with various environmental consequences such as:

  1. Oil spill if occurs causes much damage to already fragile and vulnerable arctic ecosystem. This spill is impossible to clean up and takes much to recover because of factors like, lack of sunlight, high wind, low visibility and moving icebergs
  2. Exploration of these resources would impact marine ecology as it is one of fragile regions in the world. Many wild life species like polar bears would be extinct once exploration starts.
  3. Toxics like Mercury, lead and arsenic could be released into arctic region.
  4. Excessive oceanic noises during extraction process will cause damage to species like whales which uses sound for navigation and hunting.
  5. Once transportation linkages are established and with increase in human activity, it will lead to complete melt which could significantly impact sea levels across and could have impact on low lying coastal countries.

The solution may lie on increasing investments and knowledge flows towards renewable options that are abundant and un-perishing. Regulating the fragile arctic ecosystem exploitation therefore needs to be done based on cost-benefit analysis.