US opens ways for Shell Arctic Ocean drilling

Aug 05, 2011
Environmentalists say the Arctic is crucial to endangered bowhead whales, polar bears and other marine wildlife
US officials have granted oil giant Shell conditional approval to begin drilling exploration wells in the Arctic Ocean from next year, a move swiftly slammed by conservationists as "inexcusable".

US officials have granted oil giant Shell conditional approval to begin drilling exploration wells in the Arctic Ocean from next year, a move swiftly slammed by conservationists as "inexcusable".

The US Interior Department has opened the doors to Shell's proposal for four shallow water exploration wells in ’s Beaufort Sea to start in July 2012, said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) in a statement on Thursday.

Final approval requires Shell to obtain permits from other US agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and National Marine Fisheries Service.

"We base our decisions regarding energy exploration and development in the Arctic on the best scientific information available," said BOEMRE's director Michael Bromwich.

The agency would closely review the oil giant's activities to ensure they are conducted in a "safe and environmentally responsible manner," he said.

welcomed the news, saying it added to the company's "cautious optimism that we will be drilling our Alaska leases this time next year."

Environmentalists, pointing to the vastly complicated task of drilling in the harsh Arctic environment and effectively cleaning up any spills in such conditions, however slammed the decision as "dangerous and disappointing," saying it puts the remote region, its wildlife and native communities at risk.

The move ignored a wealth of concerns raised by the same US agencies during the catastrophic 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, said a statement backed by leading environmental groups the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and Alaska Wilderness League.

"This is a disaster waiting to happen, but still BOEMRE is moving forward with drilling," lamented Earthjustice attorney Holly Harris.

"BOEMRE's decision to disregard science and gamble with a region that is crucial to endangered bowhead whales, seals, polar bears and other marine wildlife that Native subsistence communities rely upon so heavily is inexcusable," she said in a statement.

President Barack Obama had in May, prompted by high gasoline prices, committed to annual oil and gas lease sales in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve, directing the Department of Interior to conduct annual lease sales in the region.

Explore further: Land-restoration expert cautions: 'Nature never forgets nor forgives'

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ChiefOfGxBxL
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 05, 2011
"President Barack Obama had in May, prompted by high gasoline prices, committed to annual oil and gas lease sales in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve,..."
-- Sad. President Obama promises us renewable energy every day it seems (he somehow works it into nearly all of his speeches), but he does this? Others may say that with high prices he had to do something with oil companies. Nope. When will the time come when our officials draw the line and say, "Enough is enough: we're investing in renewable energy." Germany has 50% of its energy from renewable sources, and they plan to be 100% by 2050. With the US as the strongest nation in the world, why don't we do the same? The only thing preventing us is the government not drawing the line with big oil companies. It would create countless jobs, and save the $500 billion dollars we spend on foreign oil /every year/! Half a trillion dollars exported from our country every year on oil! Imagine saving that and investing in /our/ workers.
lengould100
2.1 / 5 (7) Aug 05, 2011
Should make the buggers give back all those patents on Ni-Cad battery technology first though. Shell only bought them from that wacko in Michigan to use them to sue Toyota in order to hamper Prius and future all-electric vehicle development.

Can't believe the conspiracy theory tea-party wingies don't care nothing about this well-documented provable "conspiracy to keep everyone using more gas" event. Shows how easily "directed by propaganda" they are I suppose.
Shootist
3 / 5 (8) Aug 05, 2011
I would have preferred a North American company do the exploration, drilling, transport, refining and distribution, but Dutch oil is better than mid-east oil.
poof
1 / 5 (4) Aug 05, 2011
I think you all misread this, The US Interior Department is a dept of shell co.
emsquared
3.3 / 5 (7) Aug 05, 2011
When will the time come when our officials draw the line and say, "Enough is enough: we're investing in renewable energy."

Maybe when society stops demanding someone's head for high gas prices? You realize it's you and your neighbors that create this demand right? Because of sprawling urban development and a combined societal laziness and instant-gratification mentality, that people "have" to drive everywhere. That it's you and everyone you know that has to say, 'enough is enough'. You realize this right? You realize that if you want anything to change, YOU have to change. Whimpering on the internet accomplishes about this || much, a little less actually.
Germany has 50% of its energy from renewable sources, and they plan to be 100% by 2050.

You realize Germany has 1/4 the population and 1/25th of the land area of the US right? You're comparing cherries to watermelons.

Please work on your grasp of reality.
Skepticus_Rex
3.3 / 5 (7) Aug 05, 2011
It [switching to renewable energy] would create countless jobs...

Cold, hard fact: Most of these jobs would be in infrastructure, which jobs would evaporate once the infrastructure was completed.
Shelgeyr
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 05, 2011
Hooray!

a move swiftly slammed by conservationists as "inexcusable"


Inexcusable? Inexcusable???

I don't think so. Heck, there are plenty of good excuses!

Happy thing though... we don't need good excuses.
We've got something much better...

Good reasons.
Quarky1
3 / 5 (2) Aug 06, 2011
Please pardon me if this sounds hopelessly naive or uninformed, but isn't the Arctic supposedly an area that is, or should be, categorized as "International Waters" or at least not part of either the continental USA or its colonies such as Hawaii or Puerto Rico? I find it hard to deal with the idea that our leaders consider the Arctic to be their property. Of course, I'm sure every government in the world probably wants that area to exploit for its resources, and it's hard to get penguins to fill out opinion surveys... ;-P
mrlewish
2.5 / 5 (2) Aug 06, 2011
I would have preferred a North American company do the exploration, drilling, transport, refining and distribution, but Dutch oil is better than mid-east oil.


It does not matter who drills for the oil. Oil is a fungible commodity that is sold on the open market to the highest bidder.
jonnyboy
2.3 / 5 (6) Aug 07, 2011
About damn time.

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