Shell is playing with fire in pool area in Alaska

Shell, oil, disaster, Noble Discoverer, renewables, climate change, Alaska,

Arctic drillship Discoverer is on its way to the Chukchi Sea

Oil extraction Chukchi Sea Shell is desperately searching for new oil and gas fields, but must stay away from the Chukchi Sea.

29 vessels Shell have recently arrived at the drilling site in the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska to drill for oil.

During the summer periods, this sea is regularly free of ice, but the storm frequency has increased and the wave activity has increased by the melting of the sea ice.

No ‘what if’

The polar night lasts there 60 to 90 days; if in the short arctic summer, oil enters the water, it is questionable whether this oil can be cleaned up before the onset of winter night.

But … due to the movement of the ice, and the presence of cracks, spots of open water and pressing ledges, oil will leak between the ice. It’s virtually impossible that the oil can be cleaned up before the onset of the polar nights.

The used control methods are tested only in water without ice.

One of the worst environmental disasters, the Exxon Valdez released over 10.8 million gallons of oil before Alaska, contaminating 1,300 miles of the coastline and killing thousands of birds, eagles, otters and other native animals. Despite over a billion dollars being spent on cleanup, the region still hasn’t fully recovered, even a quarter of a century later.

Shell, oil, disaster, Walrus, renewables, climate change, Alaska, Mexican Gulf, environment, leak, risk

Environmentalists sue over Shell plan to drill in Arctic

Huge impact

In ice-free water leaking oil will sink to the bottom of the ocean and remain there. Due to the low temperatures of the sea water (0.5 yo 1 degrees Celsius), the degradation is very slowly. It will be like the bottom of the ocean has been paved. Anyway, life will be impossible for decades at the bottom of the Sea.

The bores are near the sea ice place, an area that is of great importance for life in the Arctic. In this area, plankton blooms every summer. This explosive bloom marks the beginning of the food chain in the Arctic.

Therefore, an oil spill in the summer will have disastrous consequences for all life in this part of the Arctic.


Why does Shell take these risks? The company expects to be able to manage the risks of the drillings, citing the great experience it has gained from the extraction of oil and gas on the Russian island of Sakhalin. That is true. But last years, they had to manage several accidents:

  1. Consider the stranded ‘Rig Kuluk, recent on the coast of Kodiak
  2. Remember the crack in the hull of MSV Fennica which was discovered in July, causing the ship had to be repaired in Portland

Mistakes are human and are made anywhere in the world. Think of the Deepwater Horizon (April 22, 2010): the accident that nearly spelled the end of BP.

Investments: 4 to 5 billion dollars

The estimated amount of oil in the area is expected to range from 15 to 27 billion barrels of crude oil. One third of this (the economical part) means 5 to 9 billion barrels of crude oil. Enough for two to four months world consumption.

In 2030, when the production of oil will start, it’s just a drop in the ocean.

New oil and gas fields

But Shell needs new oil fields. From January to July, they produced 2.73 million barrels of oil per day. At the end of 2014, Shell’s oil and gas reserves were 13 billion barrels: enough for 11.5 years of production. So Shell has to find new oil and gas fields to continue it’s oil and gas production levels.

We would prefer Shell to invest those billions in renewables. That’s a bigger contribution to a green future, without the risk of an ecological disaster.


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