Gusev E.A., Suprunenko O.I.

Geology and hydrocarbon potential of the Russian Arctic Shelf


All-Russia Geological Institute for Geology and Mineral Resources of World Ocean, St. Petersburg, Russia

Departments of the Ministry of Natural resources of Russia conduct systematic geological survey of a continental shelf, an island and adjoining continental land in Arctic regions. To the main kinds of works on geological mapping concern seismic profiling, magnetometric, gravimetric researches, well drillings, seismoacoustic profiling, with use of a side scan and sampling of bottom sediments by corers and dredges. Priorities of our geological knowledge of a geological structure of a continental shelf of Russia are sheets of the State geological map of Russia of scale 1:1 000 000, being the modern geoinformation system (GIS) including banks of the geological and geophysical data are.

Except for the results received within the framework of the state programs on regional studying of a shelf and geological mapping, materials of the state and private oil companies and the firms conducting research and prospecting works on a shelf under licenses of the Ministry of Natural resources are used. Seismic MSC researches concern to them, first of all. The density of a network of seismic survey is non-uniform for the various seas - Barents, Kara, Laptev, East-Siberian and Chukchi Seas.

The Russian Arctic shelf on features of a geological structure is divided on two sectors: western (Barents, White (Beloe), Kara Seas) and east (Laptev, East-Siberian, Chukchi Seas).

The western sector is characterized by a thick sedimentary cover (up to 20 km in West – Barents Sea basin), consisting of two basic complexes: terrigeneous Upper Paleozoic – Quaternary one, and terrigeneous – carbonate Riphean – Mid Paleozoic platform. The ensemble of tectonic structures of the western sector is traditionally united in Barents shelf plate. From sedimentary basin of a southern part of Kara Sea the Barents shelf plate is separated by a belt of early Mesozoic fold belt of Polar Urals Mountains - Paj-Hoj – Novaya Zemlya archipelago- the Siberian threshold – Taimyr peninsula.

East sector is subdivided into two large provinces - depressions and raisings with Aptian - Quaternary sedimentary cover, lying on Upper Mesozoic folded basis and large sedimentary basins with Upper Paleozoic - Quaternary sedimentary cover. The border between different on time of stabilization provinces is extended from De-Long's archipelago - on the east - a southeast - to the north from Wrangel island – on an arch of Barrow - to coast of Alaska.

The basic difference of western and eastern sectors is prevalence Upper Cretaceous – Cenozoic sequence in eastern sector and the reduced Cretaceous-Cenozoic interval in western sector.

The hydrocarbonic material is the basic minerals on a shelf. The estimation of prospects of oil and gas was always one of the main tasks of studying of the Arctic shelf of Russia. For last decades, leaning on results of direct studying of a shelf, and in poorly investigated areas - first of all, using the data on island and coastal land, and also extrapolating materials it is better than the investigated foreign water areas, it was possible to allocate the most perspective areas of a shelf, types of structures and complexes of a sedimentary cover, to execute the general estimation of hydrocarbonic potential. The results of this estimation are repeatedly confirmed. These results testify that the overwhelming part of resources of oil and gas of the Russian Arctic shelf is situated at the seas of the western sector – Barents Sea with Pechora Sea and Kara Sea where structures of the ancient epicaledonian and epihercinian platforms are situated. Thus in the Pechora Sea resources of oil prevail. The Carboniferous Early Permian complex contains the basic part of these resources. Known oil deposits Prirazlomnoe, Dolginskoe, Varandej-More and etc. are connected to it. Similar features of the oil and gas are assumed for the northern part of Kara Sea, unfortunately, very poorly investigated. For most part of the Barents Sea and a southern part of the Kara Sea the main productive interval of a section is Jurassic-Cretaceous. Discovered unique gas-content deposits Shtokmanovskoe in Barents Sea, Rusanovskoe and Leningradskoe in the Kara Sea are related to the same interval.

In spite of lacking drilling, sedimentary basins of the Laptev sea are supposed to have a high perspective deposits of oil and gas due to a unique combination of the imposed on Upper Mesozoic basis the rift structures, ending of Gakkel mid-oceanic ridge.

Upper Cretaceous – Cenozoic cover of southern areas of the East-Siberian and Chukchi seas is considered as mainly gas-contained. Big perspective we are inclined to connect with large poorly investigated North-Chukchi basin.





Gusev E.A., Suprunenko O.I. Geology and hydrocarbon potential of the Russian Arctic Shelf. Arctic Geology, hydrocarbon resources and environmental challenges. Norsk Geologisk Forening abstracts and proceedings. 2004, p. 53-54.


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