Image courtesy of National Petroleum Council/Youtube.

The U.S. government should encourage Arctic drilling to supplement shrinking shale reserves, a new report by the National Petroleum Council said.

The report, commissioned by the Energy Department, said the government needs to ramp up offshore Arctic drilling efforts if the United States wants to move closer to energy independence.

The U.S. government is currently projecting that the shale boom will start to cool down after the next decade, the AP said.

The council said the long development life of Arctic projects, ranging anywhere between 10 to 30 years, means the government has to take action now or risk becoming dependent on imports again.

“To remain globally competitive and to be positioned to provide global leadership and influence in the Arctic, the U.S. should facilitate exploration in the offshore Alaskan Arctic now,” the study said.

Producers targeting Arctic reserves have faced a number of legal hurdles and technical challenges.

Earlier this month the U.S Interior Department said it is considering a request made by Royal Dutch Shell to extend that company’s time in the U.S. Arctic.

The Anglo-Dutch supermajor has asked for a suspension of operations that would pause the clock on its 10 year leases in offshore Alaska.

Shell is planning to resume exploration in the Chucki Sea this summer after a disappointing 2012 drilling season that saw the Shell operated Kulluk drilling rig run aground.

Norway’s Statoil and Houston-based ConocoPhillips have filed similar requests for their Chucki Sea licenses citing legal challenges and other hurdles that have delayed drilling.

The global Arctic is thought to hold about a quarter of the world’s total undiscovered conventional oil and gas reserves.

The council’s report said that while current drilling technology is sophisticated enough to successfully develop U.S. Arctic reserves further studies into existing technology and possible innovations should be conducted.

The report also recommended a review of how current lease duration policies compare to the needs of offshore Arctic exploration and development timelines.


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