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Arctic oil, the next frontier? Add to ...

The price of crude oil skidded to a six-week low on Wednesday afternoon after the U.S. Energy Department reported that gasoline supplies rose last week - yet another indication that consumers are cutting back on consumption, at least in the United States.

But it sure didn't help matters that long-term energy bulls, who have bet that the world's energy supplies will soon be dwindling, were met with evidence to the contrary. According to a report from the U.S. Geological Survey, released on Wednesday afternoon, the area north of the Arctic Circle contains an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas.

Together, these resources account for more than a fifth of the world's undiscovered but technically recoverable energy resources - meaning that currently available technology and industry practices can, in theory, extract them.

The report was the product of four years of research and had been eagerly anticipated, which could help explain why the price of crude oil - already vulnerable following reports of lower demand and rising supplies in the United States - sold off sharply on Wednesday soon after the report's release.

Oil closed at $124.46 (U.S.) a barrel in New York, down $3.96.

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