Arctic Hydrocarbon Development: State Interests and Policies

In Svein Vigeland Rottem and Ida Folkestad Soltvedt (eds), Arctic Governance: Energy, Living Marine Resources and Shipping. Volume 2. London, I.B. Tauris, 2018, pp. 26-50.

The expected surge in Arctic petroleum activity did not take place. The cost of Arctic operations has increased more than elsewhere and the fall in the oil price had major impact because the cash flow of the companies was being hit. But profitability of Arctic projects will be determined by the price when they become operative as well as over their lifetime 25 to 40 years. Major uncertainties of future climate policies tend to slow down long-term investments. But the Arctic is a heterogeneous region climatically and socially. There are particular projects or sub-regions where the logic referred to above does not apply, or applies with less strength. Some companies may have a better financial situation than others and be less inclined to cuts in exploration. Some companies may put a premium on acquiring new reserves, even if they are expensive. Some projects may be too late to stop even if the commercial assumptions have changed. And the interests of the states in the Arctic differ. Their dependence on Arctic resource development has much to say for the framework conditions and incentives offered to the industry.