RUSH FOR ARCTIC RESOURCES

The Washington Times on September 2, 2012, published an AP report on global warming ing ignited a rush to exploit Arctic resources… Excerpts below:

The Arctic is thought to hold up to a quarter of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas reserves. Despite difficult operating conditions and high costs, the payback for Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Gazprom OAO, Statoil and other companies searching for commercial quantities of hydrocarbons could be huge.

“It probably sounds a bit cynical. But if they invest billions of dollars, it’s not likely they will give it up just because somebody is attacking their oil rig,” said Mikhail Babenko, an oil and gas specialist at the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Arctic Program.

Fears that the oil industry is ill-prepared to operate in the hostile conditions of the high north were reinforced in December 2011 when a floating oil rig capsized off eastern Russia, killing more than 50 workers. Although that accident happened outside the Arctic region, it underscored the challenges of drilling farther north, where ice ridges are yards deep and storms are frequent.

Oil industry officials say they are taking the necessary precautions to conduct safe operations in the Arctic.

Cairn Energy, the Scottish company with platforms off Greenland that were targeted by Greenpeace protests in 2010 and 2011, is not drilling in the Arctic this year. By all accounts, that has nothing to do with Greenpeace but rather to the failure of the initial drilling.

Asked what, if any, impact the Greenpeace actions had on the company’s plans for Greenland, Cairn spokeswoman Linda Bain referred to the company’s second-quarter report, which does not say anything about Greenpeace.

In March, Shell won an injunction by a U.S. judge ordering Greenpeace to stay more than a half-mile away from its drilling rigs in U.S. territorial waters.

Shell’s drilling vessels are now heading north to bore exploratory wells in Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

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