Greenpeace say sustainable oil and gas extraction is not possible in the Arctic Ocean
Arctic oil spill could take 'year or more' to clean up
24th September, 2010
Russia and the US are leading the scramble for oil and gas in the Arctic, but Gulf of Mexico pollution highlights danger of oil spills say campaigners
The rush to exploit oil and gas resources in the Arctic needs to take account of the higher environmental risk of an oil spill, campaigners have warned.
Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and the US are all expected to claim their right to Arctic territory in discussions being held in Moscow this week and, as the arctic ice cap melts due to climate change, the area is becoming more and more accessible for oil and gas exploration and shipping routes to market.
However, campaigners warn there are big risks to industrial activity in the Arctic and that the idea that we could clear up a spill in such a remote and hostile environment was ‘pure fantasy’.
‘The Arctic is a much more hostile environment that the Gulf...a clear up operation could take up to a year or longer’, said Greenpeace senior climate advisor Charlie Kronick.
Clive Tesar, Head of Communications for WWF’s Global Arctic Programme says there was no proven effective method of clearing up oil in ice covered waters.
‘In the Gulf they had the best technology, boats at their disposal, reasonably good weather…now imagine 100 miles of coastline, no boats at your disposal, no helicopters and no fuel to run them, and then there’s ice on the water and it’s fifty below.’
Use of nuclear power
He urged governments to look seriously at other options before drilling for oil in the region.
It is reported that counties are also considering using nuclear power in the Arctic. Kronick states this is a ‘nightmare scenario’. He explained plans to exploit hydrocarbons like oil and gas with the help of nuclear power in the world’s last pristine environment were ‘literally mad’ and that we need to ‘declare the Arctic off limits’.
WWF have also questioned the claims that as much as a quarter of the world's resources of oil and gas could lie beneath the Arctic Ocean. They say this is simply a ‘best guess’ and there is no proof. ‘I’ve seen other suggestions that there’s no where near that amount’ says Tesar.
Kronick also says the economic benefit of drilling for oil in the Arctic is also 'debatable' with extraction costs of around $100 per barrel.
WWF: Oil spill response challenges in Arctic waters
BP oil spill: can environmental crime ever be made to pay?
Million dollar fines and compensation claims may dent the profits of BP and other companies admitting responsibility for ecological disasters but, on their own, are they enough of a deterrent?
A melted Arctic: gold mine or honey trap?
As the melting Arctic ice cap opens a new ocean to the world, governments and private speculators are rushing to cash in on lucrative resource deposits and shipping lanes. But they may find these virgin waters a dangerous place to do business…
Arctic sea ice free by 2030, say scientists
Arctic sea ice is melting faster than climate models predicted and there is less sea ice in the Arctic now than at any time since records began, scientists from the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) have discovered.
Methane: the quick fix for global warming?
Its short lifespan and greater potency means tackling methane emissions now could have a dramatic effect on atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations
With all eyes on BP, others are busy drilling deep elsewhere...
While BP is facing billion-dollar lawsuits in the US, another British company, Cairn Energy, is beginning drilling off the coast of Greenland
Using this website means you agree to us using simple cookies.