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Melting Sea Ice And Arctic Drilling: A Risky Combination

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 09.31.18Shell, which has spent billions on buying leases in Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort seas, announced that the drilling program there has been suspended amid a legal battle with environmentalists over whether Shell’s leases were legally granted by the federal government. “Right now, they don’t have the technology, the wherewithal and the capital to put into that…”

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From Climate Central’s Bobby Magill:

Posted:

Sea ice melting partly because of human-caused climate change could open previously inaccessible Arctic Ocean waters to expanded oil drilling, but the risks of drilling there will be extremely high.

As sea ice melts in the Arctic, the oil and gas industry has expressed new interest in drilling offshore and is expected to invest roughly $100 billion there by 2023, according to a new paper from the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington-based think tank. The paper highlights an agreement between ExxonMobil and Russian oil company Rosneft, which have planned to jointly explore for oil in the Kara Sea off the Arctic coast of Siberia.

The paper was discussed in a Wilson Center webcast — the day before oil giant Royal Dutch Shell announced that it would suspend its Alaska offshore operations for 2014 and possibly withdraw from the region entirely.

Shell, which has spent billions on buying leases in Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort seas, announced that the drilling program there has been suspended amid a legal battle with environmentalists over whether Shell’s leases were legally granted by the federal government.

“Right now, they don’t have the technology, the wherewithal and the capital to put into that,” Biette said. “It doesn’t make sense to do it now. They don’t want to have an accident. Shell sees the difficulties it went through the past couple years. With today’s technology and regulations, it’s not going through that.”

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