Russia and the Development of Arctic Energy Resources in the Context of Domestic Policy and International Markets

In K. Spohr, Davis S. Hamilton and Jason Moyer (eds), The Arctic and World Order. Brookings Institution Press, 2020, pp. 119-142.

Predictions about a resource race in the Arctic made some 10-15 years ago were wrong. Relevant resources are under national control. But economic conditions for Arctic energy development have changed, affected by big global trends, both on the supply and demand side. There is no doubt that expansion of Arctic petroleum activities looks less urgent today, and that the outlook is bleaker from a commercial point of view – mostly because of what is happening outside the Arctic. For good reasons, the industry is reluctant to commit to big long-term investments in Arctic energy development, particularly offshore, but also in remotely located onshore projects. The conditions differ, however, in the various Arctic sub-regions. Russia stands out with the largest resource base and a petroleum dependent economy. The authorities have strongly advocated and supported Arctic petroleum development. The ambitious Russian Arctic offshore strategy has stalled, however, mainly because of Western sanctions, but development of huge liquified natural gas projects onshore has been successful. China has become an indispensable partner in that business, but it has not been willing to take high risks offshore.