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Oil majors eye oil and gas off Arctic Jan Mayen island

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Mon Jul 1, 2013 6:17am EDT

* Shell, Chevron, Total and others buy seismic data for area

* Jan Mayen area may contain 566 mln barrels oil equivalent

(Reuters) – Oil majors including Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and Total are interested in the potential oil and gas resources off Jan Mayen island in the Arctic, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said on Monday.

These three companies, as well as London-listed Tullow Oil , Sweden’s Lundin Petroleum, Norway’s Det norske and Japan’s Idemitsu, have bought seismic data the agency has gathered since 2011.

In recent months oil companies have cooled in their eagerness to explore for hydrocarbons in the Arctic, partly due to Shell’s problems with its Kulluk drillship off Alaska.

But the Arctic may still hold 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its gas.

The NPD mapped out the sea bed around Jan Mayen island, situated to the east of Greenland and north of Iceland, and thinks it could contain some 566 million barrels of oil equivalent in reserves.

Oil companies may be keen to explore the area, but Norwegian environmentalists are against such efforts, as Jan Mayen and its surrounding seas are a nature reserve.

Oil exploration in the area has become politically controversy in Norway in recent months.

In the same area, Iceland awarded its first oil licenses to Valiant Petroleum and Faroe Petroleum in December, as it looks to make use of its energy resources and boost its fragile economy. (Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by David Holmes)

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