There is something absurdly ironic when climate change caused by the oil industry leads to the melting of ice, which in turn leads to more land or sea being available to explore for oil and gas.

The latest country to be affected is Greenland, where oil companies have begun looking for crude deposits off the west coast.

Joern Skov Nielsen, deputy director of Greenland’s Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum, said there may be more oil there than the entire past production of the North Sea. That’s about 50 billion barrels, according to figures from Norway and Britain, the region’s biggest producers.

Here’s where the numbers get silly and completely speculative. If there was 50 billion barrels of oil and if prices stayed at $US100 a barrel, that would equate to $US5 trillion worth, a huge windfall for the autonomous Danish territory’s 56,000 inhabitants.

”This is an epoch-making time, and how we handle it will be of colossal significance,” said Aleqa Hammond, Greenland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Finance. ”Greenland will be a player in the global arena in many more ways than we can even begin to imagine.”

As we asked on the blog only recently – how many Indigenous communities have been scarred by oil development? Greenland should learn the lesson.