Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Freezing … a reindeer makes its way across the snow in the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic,
where the temperature drops to minus 20 degrees in the summer. Photo: AFP
The article in the brisbanetimes.com.au titled Oil giants eye Arctic prize despite dangers, tells how difficult and dangerous exploration in this part of the world really is; see:
The article notes that:
DRILLING for oil and gas has always been a risky business; overcoming technical, political and environmental challenges is part of the job.
But last week the chief executive of the French oil giant Total, Christophe de Margerie, declared that when it came to the Arctic Ocean, the risk of a spill was simply too high.
While many of his peers clearly disagree with his assessment that drilling for oil should not proceed, few would dispute the unique risks of the fragile region. For the environment and the companies involved, a spill in the Arctic could be catastrophic.
In the Alaskan Arctic, where Royal Dutch Shell began drilling offshore last month, temperatures drop to minus 20 degrees in summer. Gale force winds move giant ice floes - Shell's rig has already had to get out of the way of one block bigger than Manhattan. And in winter, when daylight lasts a few hours, sea ice forms, making the region inaccessible.
It seems that there is always someone or some company prepared take risks, no doubt spruiking the mantra about world’s best practice and the impossibility of any disaster. But we have heard and seen it all before. When will we ever learn? And what for? PROFIT.
Astonishingly the article points out:
The US Geological Survey estimates the Arctic may hold 90 billion barrels of oil - almost three times annual global consumption and some 13 per cent of the world's undiscovered reserves. There may also be 1669 trillion cubic feet of natural gas - 30 per cent of global undiscovered reserves.
Surely not? Am I reading this correctly? Companies are prepared to take major risks just to get enough fuel for three years and some natural gas that might be there?
What can one say?
''It needs a very high oil price to make it sustainable - at least $US90-$US100 a barrel,'' Dr McClelland says.