Arctic Find Fuels Hope of Huge New Oil Reserves
Byline: MAIL FOREIGN SERVICE
THE Arctic could see a global dash for oil after a British energy company said it had found gas and oil-bearing sands there.
Cairn Energy made the discovery in one of its exploration wells off the coast of Greenland and is drilling in a basin the size of the North Sea.
Greenland's waters could hold 50billion barrels of crude and gas, enough to meet the energy demands from every country in Europe for almost two years.
However, environmental campaigners are furious that the untouched beauty of the Arctic is being put at risk.
Greenpeace's ship Esperanza is already in the area in protest and has clashed with a Danish warship as it approached the 500metre exclusion zone around the rig.
Green groups say a blow out like that at BP's Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico could cause even more damage in Greenland as cold conditions would mean limited evaporation of the oil.
Greenland, over which Denmark has held sovereignty since 1721, also has limited facilities for dealing with a major spill.
The island is self-governing but a major oil find could put the Danes in the unlikely position of becoming an oil-rich nation on a par with the likes of Saudi Arabia.
A spokesman for Edinburgh-based Cairn said that although the amount of gas found in Baffin Bay - between Greenland and Canada - was too small to be commercially exploited, it supported the view that the area could yet yield material finds.
In a statement, chief executive Sir Bill Gammell said: 'I am encouraged that we have early indications of a working hydrocarbon system with our first well in Greenland, confirming our belief in the exploration potential. …