For more than 80 years, oil and gas companies have been operating in Arctic environments. In Alaska’s North Slope alone, over 17 billion barrels of oil have been developed and shipped to domestic ports in California and Washington. There is a long history of offshore Arctic exploration as well. In fact, exploration and production wells have been drilled in the U.S. Arctic dating back over 30 years.

The following articles and reports give greater context and understanding of America’s Arctic energy story.


Historical Background on Arctic Exploration and Production Technology Development (2015)
Historical development of Arctic explorations and production technology from the early1960s to the end of the twentieth century.
National Petroleum Council

Drilling for Oil in the Arctic: A Timeline (2015)
An account of Arctic drilling beginning in 1915 with the first circumnavigation of the Northeast Passage by a Russian expedition, to June 2015 when the two Shell Oil rigs leave Seattle.
Men’s Journal

Arctic Security (2014)
A timeline focused on international diplomacy of the Arctic region.
University of Calgary: Centre for Military and Strategic Studies

The Emerging Arctic (2014)
A comprehensive guide into Arctic history from the perspectives of Arctic thawing, sovereignty and governance, economic prospects, diplomacy and security, policy options, and resources.
Council on Foreign Relations

Our Arctic presence (2014)
An in-depth look into Exxon Mobil’s current Arctic operation programs

Evolution Of Arctic Energy Development: A Timeline (1962-Present) (2013)
Focusing mostly on the diplomatic relations during Arctic exploration, with particular interest in the Arctic Council.

Offshore Oil and Gas Activities in Arctic areas (2013)
A report that investigates how existing Best Available Techniques (BAT) for some key systems are affected by Arctic conditions and future expected requirements in Norway.
Chalmers University of Technology

Petroleum Potential of the Arctic: Challenges and Solutions (2011)
This study reviews the historical difficulties of Arctic exploration with old technology and the existing solutions and novel technologies created to address these challenges.

Justifying Public Decisions in Arctic Oil and Gas Development: American and Russian Approaches (1998)
This study details the complexity of petroleum development historically between the United States and Russian approaches.
Arctic Institute of North America

Onshore and offshore story

Offshore Oil and Gas Governance in the Arctic (2014)
Study that uses historical context to determine how the U.S. can elevate the Arctic region as a priority national interest and how the country can strengthen its offshore oil and gas governance in the Arctic.
Brookings Institute

Everything You Need to Know About Shell Oil and Arctic Offshore Drilling in Alaska (2012)
Details the history of Shell’s Arctic exploration program.
Popular Mechanics

Advancing strategic environmental assessment in the offshore oil and gas sector: Lessons from Norway, Canada, and the United Kingdom (2012)
This paper examines SEA practice and influence in three international offshore systems: Norway, Atlantic Canada and the United Kingdom, with the intent to identify the challenges, lessons and opportunities for advancing SEA in offshore planning and impact assessment.
Science Direct

Late Quaternary history of the Mackenzie Beaufort region, Arctic Canada, from modelling of permafrost temperatures: I. The onshore offshore transition (2011)
A historical study into the effects of permafrost on onshore drilling wells and offshore drilling wells.
Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences

The History of Offshore Oil and Gas in the United States
Brief historical study on offshore operations in Alaska.
The Encyclopedia of Earth

The Technical Challenges of Designing Oil and Gas Pipelines in the Arctic (2008)
This paper reviews the main challenges surrounding the arctic pipelines design, construction, operation, maintenance and repair.
J P Kenny

Oil and Gas Resources of the Arctic Alaska Petroleum Province (2005)
Recent estimates of the total mean volume of undiscovered resources in the Arctic Alaska Petroleum Province by the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Minerals Management Service are more than 50 billion bbl of oil and natural-gas liquids and 227 trillion ft3 of gas.
U.S. Geological Survey

Legal Challenges

Offshore Oil and Gas Governance in the Arctic (2014)
Study that uses historical context to determine how the U.S. can elevate the Arctic region as a priority national interest and how the country can strengthen its offshore oil and gas governance in the Arctic.
Brookings Institute

Comparing the Offshore Drilling Regulatory Regimes of the Canadian Arctic, the U.S., the U.K., Greenland and Norway (2011)
This report compares the regulatory regimes in the Canadian Arctic, the U.S., the U.K., Greenland, and Norway. This report identifies similarities and differences between regulatory regimes and the legislation and regulations for offshore oil and gas drilling activities.
The Pembina Institute

Flag planting and finger pointing: The Law of the Sea, the Arctic and the political geographies of the outer continental shelf (2010)
This paper develops an analysis of the work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CCLS) and the different strategies used by coastal states to press ‘claims’ to the Outer Continental Shelf.
Elsevier Political Geography

A Polar Mediterranean? Accessibility, Resources and Sovereignty in the Arctic Ocean (2010)
Report investigates how the Arctic Ocean is not a global common and there is no equivalent to the 1959 Antarctic Treaty with a focus on the role of international law, rights of coastal states, and sovereignty.
Global Policy Journal

Russia and the Arctic: Opportunities for Engagement Within the Existing Legal Framework (2010)
Describes the policies that have lead up to the current legal framework between international Arctic opportunities.
American University International Law Review