Alaska: Shell Oil Calls Off 2013 Arctic Drilling


B. McPherson
Amid accidents and safety violations Shell pulls out of Arctic

Shell Oil has announced that it will not be drilling for oil in the Alaskan Arctic this summer. They have exploration leases in the Arctic in the Chukchi Sea.

They had trouble with an oil drillship that was being towed to Seattle for refurbishment when the tow lines snapped in rough seas. It subsequently grounded on an island and there were fears that it would spill its oil used for ballast. Eventually the Noble Discoverer was towed south for repairs. Shell has decided to send it to Korea for repairs and it will not be ready to deploy this summer. 

Drilling for petroleum is ramping up as the Arctic warms. It is believed that large pools of oil lie beneath the polar region. Environmentalists have warned about the dire consequences should a spill occur in these waters. It’s a rule of thumb that the colder the water, the harder it is to retrieve the pollution.

In addition to probable damage to the environment, should a drill rig run into difficulties there is little help within hundreds of miles.

The US Coast Guard confirmed our fears just last week, listing 16 safety violations on Shell’s rig that ran aground in at the end of last year in Alaska. The onus is now on President Obama to make Shell’s temporary stay of Arctic drilling permanent. Greenpeace

You can read their extensive list of safety violations at FuelFix, a page “powered by Statoil”, the Norweigan oil giant.

Many countries are poised to exploit the riches lying under the Arctic Ocean. We can only hope that they take a less cavalier attitude to the safety of both the men working for them and for our pristine, frigid wilderness.

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