Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image

Arctic Oil On Life Support

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 09.25.26From an OilPrice.com article by Nick Cunningham published 1 Feb 2015 under the headline:

“Arctic Oil On LifeSupport”

Oil companies have eyed the Arctic for years. With an estimated 90 billion barrels of oil lying north of the Arctic Circle, the circumpolar north is arguably the last corner of the globe that is still almost entirely unexplored.

As drilling technology advances, conventional oil reserves become harder to find, and climate change contributes to melting sea ice, the Arctic has moved up on the list of priorities in oil company board rooms.

That had companies moving north – Royal Dutch Shell off the coast of Alaska, Statoil in the Norwegian Arctic, and ExxonMobil in conjunction with Russia’s Rosneft in the Russian far north.

But achieving the goals of tapping the extensive oil reserves in the Arctic has been much harder than previously thought. Shell’s mishaps have been well-documented. The Anglo-Dutch company failed to achieve permits on time, had its drill ships run aground, and saw its oil spill containment dome “crushed like a beer can” during testing. That delayed drilling for several consecutive years.

Related: Oil Industry Withdraws From High Cost Areas

However, the first month of 2015 has darkened Arctic dreams even further. Oil companies are scratching their heads trying to figure out how to deal with a collapse in oil prices, now below $50 per barrel. With virtually every upstream company around the world slashing spending, it is the highest-cost and riskiest projects that are getting scrapped first.

In December, Chevron suspended its drilling plans in Canada’s Arctic indefinitely.

That leaves Shell, the company with the spottiest Arctic record. Shell announced $4.16 billion in fourth quarter profits, a decline from the previous quarter, but a decent showing relative to its peers. Nevertheless, the company also announced $15 billion in spending cuts over the next several years. “The macro environment has moved against us,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said after releasing the quarterly figures.

Curiously, however, amid all the spending reductions, Shell hopes to once again return the Arctic, after a two-year hiatus. Perhaps that is because of the sunk costs – Shell will spend around $1 billion on its Arctic program whether or not it is drilled because of all the ships and other logistics already under contract. Shell still needs to obtain several permits and clear legal hurdles, but if all goes according to plan, the company could begin drilling this summer.

It is up to Shell then to keep the oil industry’s Arctic dreams alive.

FULL ARTICLE

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

0 Comments on “Arctic Oil On Life Support”

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: