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Energy Strategy Reviews

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The increased attention devoted to the Arctic region in recent years is creating a misleading perception of the real activity of oil and gas companies in the region. Our analysis of the current and future E&P strategies of Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum, Total and Chevron reveals that companies are approaching the region in a very cautious manner. Our objective was to analyze how much oil and gas was extracted in the Arctic in 2012 and how much can potentially come from there in the near future, while exploring the reasoning behind the IOCs' business strategies regarding the Arctic. The five major IOCs analyzed in the study do extract important amounts of oil and less of gas from the region, but Arctic and sub-Arctic assets represent only 15% of total oil production in 2012. Gas was close to 6% of the total. Although the Arctic appears to be comparatively more attractive than other regions given the potential of undiscovered resources, drilling costs can be substantially higher due to remoteness and technical challenges. The majority of the combined additional oil and gas these five IOCS will produce up to 2017, will likely not come from the Arctic, but instead from Africa, Asia and North America. Indeed, these three regions account for 60% of their forecast additional output, whereas the Arctic will not exceed six percent.