Shell given go-ahead to drill off Alaska
The keys to vast reserves of oil off the coast of Alaska may have been handed to Shell this week after President Barack Obama's administration granted it provisional permission to drill exploration wells in the Beaufort Sea's frigid waters despite fierce opposition from environmentalists.
"This is a disaster waiting to happen," said Holly Harris, a lawyer for Earthjustice, one of several groups decrying the approval by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement of Shell's drilling plans for the region off the northern edge of Alaska. "Today's decision is nothing more than the administration's decision to roll the dice with the Arctic."
Shell's plans to drill in the Atlantic Arctic were well advanced when the BP disaster struck in the Gulf of Mexico last year and all ocean-drilling projects in US waters were effectively put on hold. The energy giant must still secure a bevy of sub-permits to be able to meet its goal of starting drilling next summer.
This "is welcome news", Shell spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh said. "We look forward to continued progress as we pursue the permits necessary to drill." Pete Slaiby, a Shell vice-president in Alaska, added: "We feel very good about it. It's one of the road marks we wanted to see. It makes us very happy."
Shell, the Anglo-Dutch energy giant, is the canary in the mine when it comes to the Beaufort Sea and the adjacent Chukchi Sea, where it also wants to drill. If it can successfully tap a reserve that geologists believe would be the second-largest in the US after the Gulf of Mexico, other companies, such as Exxon and ConocoPhillips, would quickly move in and a new oil rush would be under way.
While the wells it proposes in Alaska will be in waters far shallower than those beneath BP's doomed Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico, there are other factors that make exploration in the Beaufort Sea perilous, not least high winds and marauding icebergs. Like the Gulf, the waters are rich with biodiversity. And a spill would be much harder to tackle because of the cold water temperatures. It was partly the warmth of the Gulf waters that helped to disperse the BP spill more quickly than expected.
But Rebecca Noblin, the Alaska director for the Centre for Biological Diversity, said the approval for Shell was proof that the "promises of reform after the Deepwater Horizon [accident] amount to nothing. This administration is as willing as ever to rubber-stamp dangerous drilling plans in the Arctic Ocean." She noted that the nearest Coast Guard station was more than 1,000 miles from where Shell planned to drill.
- 1 Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
- 2 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Kanye West gives guest lecture at Oxford University: 'If I, Kanye West, can remove my ego, I think there's hope for everyone'
'This is what Islam tells us to do': A rare glimpse inside a Saudi Arabian prison – where Isis terrorists are showered with perks and privileges
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This precious metal refining co...
£20000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Conveyancing Fee Earne...
£40000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...