Drilling history of Greenland – Exploration for minerals and petroleum, and scientific projects

Flemming Getreuer Christiansen, David Whitehead, Jørgen A. Bojesen-Koefoed, John Boserup, Ole C.A. Christiansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The present paper provides a first overview of all drilling activities in Greenland through history. Results and access to preserved material are important for future research and resource exploration. Almost all drilling projects are documented with details on companies/operators, targets, commodities, deposits, regions, year, depth ranges, numbers, and cumulative depths. For mineral exploration drilling, the key numbers are: ∼1000 km, 278 projects, and ∼7000 holes. For petroleum exploration drilling, the key numbers are 58 km, 10 projects, and 39 holes. For onshore scientific drilling, key numbers are 13.4 km, 24 projects, and 112 holes. For offshore scientific drilling, key numbers are 9.4 km, 6 projects, and 44 holes. Most mineral drilling was carried out by Canadian, followed by Danish/Greenlandic, Australian, and UK-based companies. The petroleum drilling was related to specific licensing rounds, now completely stopped. The scientific drilling has changed due to various strategies from authorities and other sponsors. The cores and results from previous drilling have a high value for society and should be preserved for research, exploration, and other future activities. Compared to other countries Greenland has a big task to develop and maintain a drill core database and make core material available for new users.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101417
Number of pages22
JournalThe Extractive Industries and Society
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • Drilling
  • Exploration, Research, Key publications
  • Greenland

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 1: Data
  • Programme Area 4: Mineral Resources


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