229. OIL IN GREENLAND
Continuing from the previous article, let's look at the next area where the USGS estimates a lot of undiscovered oil: Greenland.
Oil is found in sedimentary basins, so let's look at the basins of Greenland. This map is from the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) (click to enlarge, or open up the pdf):
This is a huge unexplored area. Notice the inset to the lower right, next to the map of Greenland. That inset shows the relative size of the sedimentary basins of the North Sea, drawn to the same scale. According to GEUS: "Total area of sedimentary basins with petroleum prospectivity exceeds 350,000 km² (135,000 square miles). Total seismic data base c. 110,000 km, but coverage uneven. Only 6 offshore wells and 1 onshore well drilled, all in West Greenland. Large areas still untested." Source
There is no doubt that there is oil in Greenland. There are widespread oil seeps and shows in the west (Source) and extensive bitumen showings in the Franklinian Basin of northern Greenland Source. In the Northeast Greenland Shelf Rift Systems Assessment Unit (AU 52000101), the assessing USGS geologist (M.E. Henry) noted the similarity to North Sea geology, and the presence of four exhumed oil fields (which are now bitumen). He gave 1.0 as the probability that a 20MMbarrel field exists.
Here's the data on the geological characteristics of 52000101:
So we've got all the elements for petroleum formation. What's the status of exploration? As noted above, a total of 7 wells have been drilled in Greenland. That compares to about 5,400 offshore wells drilled worldwide in 2003 alone Source, and 200 exploration wells drilled in the UK North Sea in 1990 alone Source
ASSESSMENT UNIT: Northeast Greeenland Shelf Rift Systems (52000101)
DESCRIPTION: This assessment unit includes the continental margin off eastern and northeastern Greenland and is almost entirely offshore. The eastern boundary extends to the approximate position of the boundary between continental and oceanic crust, the northern boundary separates this province from the Wandell Sea Basin, the southern boundary is placed near lat. 70 N. and the western boundary is drawn to include the nearshore deep sub-basins on the shelf that have been interpreted from geophysical data.
SOURCE ROCKS: The principal source rock for this unit is expected, primarily by analogy with the Norwegian shelf and the Viking Graben of the North Sea, to be Late Jurassic shales of the Hareelv Formation. Other potential source rocks probably exist in the unit and include, in order of expected importance, the Upper Permian Ravenfjeld Formation, Upper Carboniferous lacustrine shales, the Lower Jurassic Kap Stewart Formation, and other Devonian and Triassic beds.
MATURATION: Little published data exits in the offshore area regarding thermal maturity of these likely sources. Considering the probable depths of the source rocks in the numerous subbasins that exist on the shelf, which are as deep as 10 km, thermal maturity for petroleum generation must have been reached at least locally in these depressions.
MIGRATION: Because of the nature of structural deformation in this unit lateral migration may be rather limited but vertical migration could have been important.
RESERVOIR ROCKS: Principal reservoir rocks are expected to be sandstones of the Middle Jurassic Vardekløft and Olympen Formations. Other important reservoir units include carbonate build-ups in the Upper Permian and sands of the Lower Jurassic Kap Stewart and Neill Klintner Formations.
TRAPS AND SEALS: The system of fault blocks, rotated generally landward, lead to the expectation that major traps are likely to be found in the uplifted side of the blocks and that faulting will be important in trap formation. Overlying shales will form top seals for many traps.
We can conclude then (following up from the previous article) that not only is the #1 candidate for new oil not being explored; the #2 candidate for new oil is NOT BEING EXPLORED EITHER.
Here's Colin Campbell on the subject of Greenland:
In, for example, the famous case of little known NE Greenland, the study states with a straight face that there is a 95% subjective probability of more than zero, namely at least one barrel, and a 5% probability of more than 111.815 Gb (billion barrels). A Mean value of 47.148 Gb is then computed from this range, being incorporated in the global assessment. Can we really give much credence to the suggestion that this remote place, that has so far failed to attract the interest of the industry, holds almost as much, or more, than the North Sea, the largest new province to be found since the Second World War?This is completely lame as a rebuttal by a geologist. He speaks of the remoteness of the area, but that's not a geological argument. Remote places can have oil too. He also speaks of the lack of interest by oil companies, but that doesn't prove anything either. Oil companies ignored the North Sea for about 100 years, and it had oil. Their lack of interest may also have something to do with this:
The climate along the east coast is greatly affected by the East Greenland polar current which causes the creation of metre-thick ice cover to form during the winter half. During the summer half, huge ice masses from the Polar Basin drift down along the coast and south of Cape Farewell. These ice masses, known as the field ice, create huge problems for shipping. SourceNow, it may be difficult to produce the oil in Greenland, but that has no bearing on how much oil exists there. The oil in Northeast Greenland is polar oil -- i.e. nonconventional by Campbell's definition. High costs may indeed make oil in NE Greenland uncompetitive against conventional oil from Saudi Arabia. It may, however, be competitive against other unconventional sources like tar sands, oil shale or in-situ coal gasification of undersea coal etc.
The bottom line is this: Colin Campbell has criticized the USGS estimate of undiscovered oil in Greenland, but presented no geological reasons to rebut those estimates. He's just waving his hands and spouting a bunch of empty rhetoric. The evidence shows there is oil in Greenland.