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The Wall Street Journal: Energy Blog: Report: Big Oil to Benefit From Melting Arctic Ice

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Oil companies may have less of this stuff getting in their way. (AP/Prentice Danner)

April 20, 2007, 5:03 pm
Posted by Staff

The rapid melting of Arctic ice is opening up new waters to oil exploration, furthering the world’s use of fossil fuels — and contributing to more global warming and still more Arctic-ice melting, according to a new equity research report today.
Oil companies may have less of this stuff getting in their way. (AP/Prentice Danner)
The report, by Bernstein Research analysts Neil McMahon and Oswald Clint, says the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that one quarter of the world’s undiscovered resources of oil and natural gas lie under Arctic waters. They suggest that estimate — made in 2000 — could understate the amount of reserves in the Arctic.

“Ironically, the accelerated recent melting of Arctic summer sea ice, and the plight of the polar bear due to global warming, is likely to create a boom for the oil industry through the opening of new exploration acreage, leading to the potential of more hydrocarbon exploitation and arguably more global warming,” the analysts write.

Among the companies best-poised to take advantage of an Arctic exploration boom, they write, are Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, BP and Total. But as most of the melting is happening in Russian waters, they add, Norwegian companies such as Statoil and Norsk Hydro will also benefit.

“Within technical oil industry circles, the Arctic is becoming a hot topic, and this has not hit the investment community yet,” they add. “We think the investment community is going to hear a lot more of the Arctic and its potential for the oil industry very soon.”

– Mark Gongloff

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The question is can the public trust Big Oil to exploit the arctic melting created by climate change, which is itself a product of gross stupidity, greed and negligence? It is ironic indeed that ExxonMobil may now benefit from global warming after denying for years that it exists. We have already witnessed the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill which according to a Wikipedia article “was one of the most devastating man made environmental disasters ever to occur at sea”. BP is currently in the dog house because of huge oil leaks in Alaska due to badly maintained pipeline and the Texas City oil refinery explosion and deaths also caused by gross negligence.

The track record of Royal Dutch Shell in terms of integrity and the environment also does not inspire confidence. The sale of tainted gasoline in the USA and Canada, participation in price fixing cartels, the tragic explosion at a Shell Oil refinery in Norco in which six people lost their lives, Clean Air Act violations, repeated environmental infringements in Louisiana, a pipeline rupture in Washington State which resulted in an explosion and more deaths, repeated multimillion dollar fines for groundwater contamination, more fines for unauthorised venting and flaring of gas. Details can be found on Wikipedia at

Shell has also been guilty of causing hellish pollution in Nigeria for decades, engaging in corruption with successive Nigerian regimes to plunder billions in oil revenues, while leaving the local population to live in abject poverty. The following link is to a leaked Shell confidential internal report in which Shell admits that its operations in the Niger Delta have fuelled corruption and violence.

So can we trust Big Oil to exploit the arctic melting without strict oversight? The answer must be a resounding NO.

Posted by John Donovan, co-owner of the website

Comment by John Donovan – April 21, 2007 at 5:44 am

All of the posted comments are accessible on the WSJ article via this link… and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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