North America’s northern reaches are receiving new attention, particularly Alaska. Earlier this year, operators wagered huge sums at a lease sale in the Chukchi Sea, between Alaska and Russia. Seven companies offered bids totaling nearly $3.4 billion, and high bids added up to nearly $2.7 billion on 2.76 million acres. Shell submitted a total of 275 high bids, including $105 million for one tract. Its total commitment was $2.1 billion. ConocoPhillips submitted 98 high bids that summed to $506 million. The reason for the interest was made clear when the U.S. Geological Survey released its assessment of undiscovered resources above the Arctic Circle. The Survey determined that Arctic Alaska alone holds potential for 30 billion barrels of oil, 6 billion barrels of natural-gas liquids and 221 trillion cubic feet of gas. Arctic Alaska, especially the Arctic platform, holds outstanding oil potential, fully 30% of all the undiscovered oil in the entire globe above the Arctic Circle. The Chukchi Sea falls within this highly prospective area, as does Canada’s Mackenzie Delta. The U.S.G.S. has set up a website at If you are interested in undiscovered oil and gas resources above the Arctic Circle, it offers a fact sheet, slide show and podcast. --Peggy Williams, Senior Exploration Editor, Oil and Gas Investor