Monday, May 21st 2012 - 01:13 UTC

Oil and gas in Antarctica: El Dorado complex, according to British scientist

The prospect of finding oil in Antarctica was discussed at an event in Aberdeen, Scotland last week. Professor David Macdonald from the University of Aberdeen’s School of Geosciences examined the fact and fiction surrounding claims that oil and gas reserves could exist in this area.

Professor Macdonald: so far a vast amount of misinformation

Professor Macdonald is an expert on polar geology, having worked for the British Antarctic Survey for 14 years and completed seven Antarctic expeditions. He also worked for the Cambridge Arctic Shelf Program for seven years, including expeditions to Svalbard and Siberia.

Professor Macdonald said there was a vast amount of misinformation surrounding the prospect of oil and gas reserves being found in Antarctica.

“The possibility of exploration in this area first came to the fore up to 70 years ago and was given further precedence in the media spotlight during the Falklands war, when there was speculation around areas of the Antarctica which fell adjacent to the Falkland Islands.

“In truth, we actually still know very little about Antarctica and what could lie beneath the ice. What is happening here is what I call the El Dorado complex – the idea that unknown lands will be a treasure trove of resources.

“We are perhaps as humans, hard-wired to be optimistic and there is certainly a build up in public perception that there are vast oil resources hidden in this area of the world, but in actuality this location might be the least prospective continent due to its geology.

“What we know at the moment suggests that any oil and gas would either be under kilometres of ice, or in areas of the continental shelf that are constantly scoured by giant icebergs. The task of uncovering the resources would be mammoth and unlikely to be economically viable.

“At the moment there is a ban on searching beneath the Antarctic for oil and gas under the international Antarctic Treaty. I suggest this political protection is all very well, but a hard, sober and rational economic view should also dictate that oil exploration in this area is not a wise option”. (Penguin News)

5 comments Feed

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1 KFC de Pollo (#) May 21st, 2012 - 01:53 am Report abuse
They should ban all exploration in Antarctica. There really isn't any need to go there for oil/gas. Listening Argentina?
2 MurkyThink (#) May 21st, 2012 - 09:54 am Report abuse
greediness-- wanting more power.
3 JohnN (#) May 21st, 2012 - 07:10 pm Report abuse
Not a wise option if there is a clear and present danger of disaster. However, as Russia, US, Canada, etc get fully-involved in Arctic oil exploration, the technology for exploration in high-risk environments will start to develop.

Petroleum exploration in the Arctic:

Global Warming helps out Antartic oil exploration:
4 Islas Malvinas (#) May 28th, 2012 - 04:07 pm Report abuse

“UK looks to make Antarctica claim”
“The move does signal Britain's willingness to join the current rush by countries to try to secure their potential oil and gas rights to seabeds should circumstances change”
“”It is essentially to safeguard for the future and if (the treaty) is abolished in the future “

Exploiting resources. That´s what´s colonialism is all about.
And you know about it.
You don´t really believe the UK worries about the ”self determination rights” of 1333 malvinenses, do you?
5 JohnN (#) May 28th, 2012 - 06:36 pm Report abuse
4 Islas: If colonialism is just about exploiting resources, what does that make Argentina's exploitation of its resources, as well as its desire to appropriate and exploit resources of Falkland Islanders?

Of course many of us do believe that Britain is concerned about the sovereignty and security of the Falkland Islands' community. They have shown that they care, whether by liberating the Falkland Islands on 14 June 1982 at a cost of 255 British lives, and by the 30 years of progressive structuring of governance and economy of the Falkland Islands. It is most encouraging to see the Falkland Islands community develop new resources, and makes every sense that, while the British Antarctic Territories are currently off-limits for petroleum exploration and exploitation, to prepare for that eventuality. In the meantime, it is most gratifying to see a cruise tourism resource building that links BAT, Falklands and South Georgia.

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