Open thread: drilling for oil and gas in the arctic

2013-12-25

in Canada, Economics, Politics, Science, The environment

Unfortunately, the climate-change-induced melting of the north polar icecap is making it easier to drill for oil and gas in the arctic. Large amounts of fossil fuels are expected to be found in the region, adding to the world’s already dangerously large supplies.

The enthusiasm of companies and governments to exploit unconventional sources of fossil fuels is starkly at odds with the reality that we can only control climate change if we choose not to exploit such reserves – while rapidly scaling back production of conventional oil, gas, and coal.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan December 27, 2013 at 12:19 am

See also the “Fossil fuel extraction in the arctic is a particularly high-risk and unpredictable endeavour” section in the University of Toronto fossil fuel divestment brief (p. 120 of the PDF).

. December 28, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Opening the Arctic

The year opened with one of Shell’s two Arctic drilling rigs breaking free from a tow ship and running aground off the coast of Alaska. Shell sent the two Arctic drilling rigs to Asia for extensive repairs. This event prompted more calls for restrictions in opening up the Arctic to oil exploration. Shell wants to try again in 2014, but Senate Democrats are asking for a delay on further oil exploration in the Arctic.

Nevertheless, oil companies rushed to the north to explore for oil. Norway awarded 24 oil and gas exploration licences to 29 companies, mostly in the Arctic Barents Sea. The licenses were scooped up by international majors like Royal Dutch Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, Total and Statoil, which the Norwegian government hopes will revive Norway’s falling oil production.

Other Arctic nations are also pushing forward with plans for oil exploration. Russia has aggressively defended its interests there, seizing a Greenpeace ship and detaining its crew after the group attempted to interfere with Russia’s Arctic drilling.

. November 18, 2016 at 3:31 pm

On its way out, Obama administration moves to slam the door shut on Arctic drilling

The Obama administration on Friday banned offshore drilling in the Arctic, setting a likely collision course with President-elect Donald Trump, who has vowed to “unleash” new energy production in the United States by rolling back restrictions on oil and gas companies.

The move by the Interior Department, part of a new five-year plan for energy development in federal waters, would put a temporary end to exploration in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off the Alaskan coast. It also dropped plans to allow companies to drill for oil and natural gas in the Atlantic Ocean off of four southeastern states, including Virginia.

“The plan focuses on lease sales in the best places — those with highest resource potential, lowest conflict, and established infrastructure — and removes regions that are simply not right to lease,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement Friday. “Given the unique and challenging Arctic environment and industry’s declining interest in the area, forgoing lease sales in the Arctic is the right path forward.”

The areas off Alaska currently are considered by big oil companies to be too expensive to explore given low crude prices, the steep expenses of drilling in icy waters and the costly failure by Royal Dutch Shell to discover oil in 2015 after years of preparation. Shell spent more than $7 billion, and in the end the hole it drilled was virtually dry.

Even if the economics of Arctic drilling improve and a Trump administration wants to reopen the area to exploration, both oil company officials and environmental groups say, Trump would be unable to toss out the five-year plan immediately. To undo the Obama administration’s ban, a new administration would have to prepare a supplemental report, which could take as long as two years, depending on whether it needs to prepare a new environmental impact statement.

After that, the federal government would have to organize a lease sale for companies interested in drilling there.

. July 13, 2017 at 6:29 pm

US approves oil drilling in Alaska waters, prompting fears for marine life

Italian company plans to drill four exploration wells in the Arctic, which some say will endanger polar bears, bowhead whales and other marine mammals

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