‘Asking for Disaster,’ Shell Renews Bid For Risky Arctic Drilling

Oil giant's chief financial officer says it hopes to drill in Chukchi Sea in 2014.
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    Salvage teams conduct an assessment of Shell's Kulluk drill barge on January 9, 2013 in Kodiak Island's Kiliuda Bay in Alaska.  The Kulluk, a circular drill barge without its own propulsion, ran aground New Year's Eve in a powerful storm off the coast of Sitkalidak Island in Alaska.  It was being towed to Seattle for maintenance before it ran aground.   The Kulluk was being held in place by the tug boats Lauren Foss and Ocean Wave.

    Salvage teams conduct an assessment of Shell’s Kulluk drill barge on January 9, 2013 in Kodiak Island’s Kiliuda Bay in Alaska. (Photo/Tim Aubry via Greenpeace)


    To the alarm of environmental groups, oil giant Shell announced on Thursday it was making plans to be able to resume the hunt for oil in Arctic waters in 2014.

    On a call with reporters, chief financial officer Simon Henry said, “Our focus would be very much on the Chukchi [Sea], which is by far the biggest prize; that is the multi-billion barrel prize,” he said.

    “Clearly, we would like to drill as soon as possible, so we are putting the building blocks in place. There remains a permitting and regulatory process through which we need to go, before we can confirm a decision to actually drill in 2014,” said Henry.

    In February, Shell announced it was suspending its 2013 Arctic drilling program following a mishap-laden year in which its “ships have caught fire, run aground, lost control and become the subject of criminal investigation,” proving, according to Greenpeace International’s Arctic oil campaign Ben Ayliff, that “it is completely unfit to drill in the remote Arctic, a place of unrivaled beauty where any spill would be an environmental disaster.”

    Echoing Ayliff’s warning, Miyoko Sakashita, Oceans Director at the Center for Biological Diversity, warned that “drilling in the Arctic is just asking for disaster, and it should be put off limits.”

    “In the remote frozen Arctic, it’s impossible to clean up and oil spill and the risks of an accident are so much greater in the harsh weather and ice,” Sakashita said in a statement toCommon Dreams. “We already saw the danger with Shell’s folly last year when its drill ship cut loose and ran aground. The Arctic is a home to endangered polar bears and whales, and a drill rig in their icy home is a nail in the coffin.

    This article originally appeared on CommonDreams.

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