Briefing Paper

Briefing Paper 127 (2013)   

Arctic economic potential:
The need for a comprehensive and risk-aware understanding of Arctic dynamics


Published 23.4.2013

Harri Mikkola & Juha Käpylä
The Finnish Institute of International Affairs

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The melting of the Arctic is expected to offer prospects for maritime transport and hydrocarbon exploitation that could potentially create an Arctic economic boom.

In principle, more accessible Arctic sea routes could offer substantial savings in logistics between Asian, American and European markets when compared to the current global maritime trade routes via the Panama and Suez Canals.

It is estimated that as much as 13 per cent of undiscovered oil deposits and 30 per cent of undiscovered gas deposits on the globe are located in the Arctic area. These hydrocarbon prospects are further estimated to make the Arctic area a major global energy hub.

However, the extent and pace of overall Arctic development is still difficult to forecast. There are many uncertainties and challenges in the Arctic environment, infrastructure, technology and global economy that may hinder the expected trajectories.

What is needed is an informed, comprehensive assessment of the risks and gains related to the development of the Arctic.

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