Shell again intends to drill off Alaska, despite mishaps | WWF

Shell again intends to drill off Alaska, despite mishaps

Posted on 29 January 2015    
Waves crash over the conical drilling unit Kulluk where it sits aground on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island, Alaska
© Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg
Shell has announced that it intends to try again to drill for oil off the coast of Alaska. The company had suspended its drilling operations last year following a disastrous drilling attempt in 2012.

Shell is making the attempt despite the lack of proven technology to drill safely in the Arctic, and the lack of proven effective tools and techniques for cleaning up spills in icy waters.

“The threat of oil spills from risky exploratory drilling threatens Alaska’s Arctic seas and the people who depend on them", says Margaret Williams, managing director of US Arctic program. "After the series of accidents and errors during its first foray of Arctic exploration, today’s news from Shell raises serious concerns."

Shell's statement is the latest in a string of announcements on the future of oil and gas in the Arctic. The US government protected Alaska's Bristol Bay from all oil and gas development last month, and this week announced a restriction on drilling in some parts of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Norway took a riskier approach, opening the edge of the sea ice to drilling in its latest licensing round.

“2015 holds great promise to be a year when people and governments around the world join together to make lasting commitments to secure a global climate agreement so that we leave our children a safe world", says Williams.

"A decision to extract fossil fuels from the Arctic sea, home to polar bears, walrus, whales, seabirds and other wildlife, and a place where extreme weather, gale-force winds and extended periods of darkness make operations and response to spills extremely difficult, is a backward move at this time of great progress.”
 
Waves crash over the conical drilling unit Kulluk where it sits aground on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island, Alaska
© Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg Enlarge

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