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Home* News and Stories → Oil in Spits­ber­gen?

Oil in Spits­ber­gen?

Oil in Spits­ber­gen? Oil and gas have been loo­ked for mul­ti­ple times sin­ce the 1960, and not­hing of eco­no­mic value had been found so far. It did not seem a rele­vent ques­ti­on any­mo­re, at least onshore.

Now it seems pos­si­ble that the­re might be oil in rele­vant quan­ti­ties whe­re few would have expec­ted it: natu­ral­ly stored in the coal. The paleo­ce­ne (60 mil­li­on years ago) coal that is mined in Spits­ber­gen has an oil con­tent that is hig­her than usu­al. Was the oil extra­c­ted from the coal and sold sepa­ra­te­ly, then the value of one ton coal might see a signi­fi­cant rise: 150 oil-dol­lars against 70-80 dol­lars from coal sales, based on cur­rent world mar­ket pri­ces. And even the resi­du­al coke might still be sold for ener­gy pro­duc­tion.

The oil poten­ti­al of Spitsbergen’s coal reser­ves is rough­ly esti­ma­ted at 700 mil­li­on bar­rel: not a „game­ch­an­ger“ on the world mar­ket, but poten­ti­al­ly very important for the local mining com­pa­ny, Store Nor­ske. This does not include any reser­ves from coal older than the Paleo­ce­ne. The­re is coal from the Devo­ni­an, Car­bo­ni­fe­rous, Tri­as­sic and Creta­ce­ous in Spits­ber­gen, but the­se have not been inves­ti­ga­ted enough to say any­thing about their oil poten­ti­al.

In any case, the value of the resour­ces would rise signi­fi­cant­ly. This might also make coal seams inte­res­t­ing, that have so far been con­side­red com­mer­ci­al­ly unim­portant.

If this ever beco­mes rea­li­ty, is any­thing but cer­tain: the­re is, so far, no pro­cess available that could be used com­mer­ci­al­ly in Spits­ber­gen on an indus­tri­al sca­le. And any pro­cess would requi­re sub­stan­ti­al invest­ments, some­thing that would pro­vi­de dif­fi­cul­ties for Store Nor­ske, which is curr­ent­ly facing a huge defi­cit. And final­ly, explo­ita­ti­on of so far untouch­ed coal resour­ces would be poli­ti­cal­ly high­ly con­tro­ver­si­al, even in the oil-and-gas-coun­try Nor­way.

Ship­ping coal from the port of Lon­gye­ar­by­en: will the­re be pipe­lines next to the cra­nes in the future?

Coal shipping, port of Longyearbyen

Source: Teknisk Uke­blad



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last modification: 2014-07-01 · copyright: Rolf Stange