News / Europe

Oil Giants Eye Arctic Reserves

Oil Giants Eye Arctic Reserves; Environmentalists Urge Moratoriumi
|| 0:00:00
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 28, 2012
As oil giant Shell calls a temporary halt to its exploration activities in the Arctic over safety concerns, lawmakers in Britain are urging international governments to seek a moratorium on offshore drilling in the region. Environmentalists say an oil spill could cause catastrophic, irreversible damage. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA that with global demand set to rise, though, some say it’s time to look at ‘unconventional resources’.
TEXT SIZE - +
Henry Ridgwell
— As oil giant Shell calls a temporary halt to its exploration activities in the Arctic because of concerns over safety, lawmakers in Britain are urging international governments to seek a moratorium on offshore drilling in the region.  Environmentalists say an oil spill could cause catastrophic, irreversible damage.  But with global energy demands set to rise, some say it’s time to look at such ‘unconventional resources.’ 

Last winter in the Arctic, the Russian tanker ‘Renda’ carved its way to the remote Alaskan port of Nome.

Not long ago this voyage - made in December and January - would have been impossible.  The warming climate means thinner ice.  More and more vessels are plying these routes year-round.  Many of them are involved in the search for oil and gas.  The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there are 26 billion barrels of recoverable oil beneath the United States' Arctic waters alone.

Oil giants, including state-owned Russian firm Rosneft and Royal Dutch Shell, have already spent billions of dollars prospecting for hydrocarbons.

But Glada Lahn from the policy institute Chatham House, says climate change can create problems as well as opportunities.

“With the warming temperatures in the Arctic, the frequency of ice breaking off, that speeds up and so you perhaps have more icebergs in the way of operations," said Lahn. "The other problem is increasing severity of storms and as the ice retreats from the coastlines, there’s more chance of larger waves leading to coastal erosion and damage to infrastructure.”

Corporate video animations posted on the Internet by Shell illustrate the company’s drilling activities in the Arctic.  Shell has abandoned its Arctic exploration until after the coming winter, citing the failure of a key piece of safety equipment.

According to analyst Glada Lahn, safety will be the key to any successful oil exploration in the Arctic.

“It’s been more difficult in the U.S. and Canada.  The memories of Deepwater Horizon, and even before that Exxon Valdez, are still fresh in people’s minds, and so there’s been a lot more public scrutiny of the companies’ spill response plans, for instance,” said Lahn.

VOA did approach Shell for an interview but the company said no one was available.

After political problems appeared to have derailed the deal, it appears a joint venture between Rosneft and BP to drill in the Arctic could be back on.

But not all oil giants are joining the rush.  The CEO of the French firm Total recently said “a leak would do too much damage to the image of the company.”

This handout photo taken by Greenpeace on August 25, 2012 shows Greenpeace activists holding a banner in front of the Gazprom 'Prirazlomnaya' oil drilling platform during their protest in the Barents Sea as the Gazprom support boat secures the area.This handout photo taken by Greenpeace on August 25, 2012 shows Greenpeace activists holding a banner in front of the Gazprom 'Prirazlomnaya' oil drilling platform during their protest in the Barents Sea as the Gazprom support boat secures the area.
x
This handout photo taken by Greenpeace on August 25, 2012 shows Greenpeace activists holding a banner in front of the Gazprom 'Prirazlomnaya' oil drilling platform during their protest in the Barents Sea as the Gazprom support boat secures the area.
This handout photo taken by Greenpeace on August 25, 2012 shows Greenpeace activists holding a banner in front of the Gazprom 'Prirazlomnaya' oil drilling platform during their protest in the Barents Sea as the Gazprom support boat secures the area.
In August activists from the environmental group "Greenpeace" chained themselves to a Russian ship working from Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya rig in the Barents Sea.

"This is a peaceful attempt by us as Greenpeace to try to bring some sanity and some urgency, to get Gazprom, Shell, and other companies that are thinking about drilling in the Arctic to stop, to reconsider and understand the consequences of that action that will destroy our children's and grandchildren's future," said  Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo.

Scientists warn that a big oil spill in the Arctic would remain for decades in a kind of ‘ice-and-oil sandwich.’

Nevertheless oil companies like Shell say it will be necessary in the coming decades to look at unconventional resources such as the Arctic.

Environmental campaigners say that in such a pristine environment, the risks are simply too high.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid