Let’s not get carried away with talk of an Arctic oil rush

Outlook

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The Independent Online

So, Hillary Clinton loves polar bears more than Barack Obama does. After the President’s decision to approve Shell’s drilling in the Arctic, his potential successor said it was a big mistake and “not worth the risk”. The temptation now is to predict that the decree sets a precedent that will trigger a goldrush of oil explorers all donning their parkas and heading Polewards.

Oil majors have potential Arctic projects in Russia, Norway, Greenland and Canada. But I suspect a mad dash is far from likely. Having spent $7bn already, Shell’s project was way more advanced than these others. With oil prices at such low levels, it’s hard to see shareholders approving other companies’ projects soon.

But the Clinton-Obama split is interesting. One wonders if Ms Clinton’s idealism would be quite as strong if she’d been a long-serving president. Shell has spent some $51.2m lobbying in the US in the past five years. That kind of bombardment can wear down any administration over time.

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