Search Results for Tag: Oil
Climate Change: Threat or Opportunity?
The interview I recorded with the Norwegian foreign minister is transcribed on Deutsche Welle’s Environment page. Have a read of his views on whether the opening of the Arctic to commercial exploitation is more of a threat or an opportunity.
DateFebruary 2, 2011 | 2:37 pm
Arctic oil exploration 2015 – a changing climate?
(Frozen over Chukchi Sea)
Did it make you sit up and listen when you heard that particular little item of news? You could be fogiven if you missed it, hidden away in the business news somewhere. BP and the Russian state oil company Rosneft have signed an agreement which will let them join forces to exploit the oil and gas resources of Russia’s Arctic region – and the date envisaged is 2015.
With the Gulf of Mexico disaster just nine months past, I’d say there is every reason to be concerned about the fragile Arctic environment.
And the increasing interest, not just in this particular case, seems to me a clear indication that the climate is changing – and some of those changes are coming fast.
From this weekend onwards, I’ll be looking into the situation of the Arctic in particular at the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromso, in Arctic Norway. I’ll keep you posted on what the politicians, scientists and environmentalists are saying.”Arctic Tipping Points” is the title of this year’s Arctic conference. It looks as if they might not be as far in the future as people once thought.
DateJanuary 18, 2011 | 9:23 am
Arctic Chukchi Sea – to drill or not to drill?
I’ll never forget the beauty, the silence and the wonder of stepping out on the frozen Arctic waters of the Chukchi Sea in Barrow, Alaska.
Ice Blog Archive Alaska 2008
Nor will I forget the tales of the Inupiat people of the changes to the ice and the consequences for wildlife, like polar bears and whales.
On the same trip, I visited Prince William Sound. That site of great natural beauty was also the location of the Exxon Valdez disaster, just over 20 years ago. At first sight, you don’t notice that, but underneath some of the rocks you find traces of oil, which takes a long, long time to break down in the cold Arctic waters.
So it’s with some concern that I follow the controversy over plans by Royal Dutch Shell to drill for billions of barrels of oil in the Chukchi Sea this year. The sea lies between Alaska and Siberia and is thought to hold large quantities of oil and gas.
The US authorities conditionally approved the plans to drill three exploratory wells in December 2009. The decision was delayed on the grounds that the area is a prime habitat for polar bears, now recognized by US law as a threatened species.
Now indigenous and conservationist groups are suing to stop the project.
Concern from the Northern Alaska Environmental Centre
The oil industry has a strong position in Alaska. It provides around 40% of the state’s tax revenue and provides a lot of funding for the University of Alaska. Shell says it is working to improve its environmental impact. But the environment lobby is not happy that enough is known about the potential impacts of further drilling and the changes being brought by climate change. With the race to get at the Arctic’s natural resources speeding up as the region warms – more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet – the risk of development without adequate research on environmental impacts seems to me to be increasing all the time.
“Shell comes under attack in Alaska” – in THE GUARDIAN
DateJanuary 27, 2010 | 10:43 am
Politics and Science
The four hours (increasing daily) of daylight here are fascinating. The snow and the sky turn so many different shades of blues and pink, it’s tempting to stand outside and watch the show.
Of course Arctic Frontiers continues inside, so a quick photo session in the lunch-break has to suffice.
There are actually 3 different elements of this conference. The first two days were policy,the rest of the week science, with a parallel International Polar Year meeting taking place. People keep saying it would be great to bring the politicians and scientists together even more and have the ministers and commissioners here all week. To some extent, I think that’s true. Then again, the scientists need their own forum to discuss technical stuff. Some of them told me they were getting impatient with the politics, although they know governance is a key issue for the future of the Arctic.
Somehow, I don’t think the fact that we feel governments are too slow to take action to drastically reduce emissions would change much even if the ministers and commissioners could sit through all the science conferences. The information about the speed at which the Arctic is melting has got through to the politicians. The trouble is the changes we will have to make to our lifestyles and the slow rate at which we’ve been developing alternative technologies. The Norwegian ministers here said quite clearly Norway, for instance, will continue to depend on fossil fuels in coming decades and try to reduce emissions using new technologies like carbon capture and storage (still at experimental stage!)
We have to reduce our energy consumption and drastically increase our use of renewables. I’d say there’s a concensus here on that amongst scientists and politicians here.
One young German scientist said to me last night everybody who understands the science and the situation should just take a stand and support the call for a moratorium on any further exploitation of oil and gas in the Arctic. Now that would be a fine thing. But what about commercial interests? Sigh.
DateJanuary 22, 2009 | 4:06 pm
"Russian" for Control of the Melted Arctic?
Chaudhary has thanked the Ice Blog for “very cool and also very hot information about ice”. Thanks for your interest Chaudhary, hope you’ll carry on reading and sending me feedback.
Keeping my eye out for the latest “cool and hot” ice info this week, I’m afraid it’s the Russians who’ve been making the most headlines. President Medvedev has told his people to draft a law marking out Russia’s borders in the Arctic. This is all part of an ongoing dispute between various countries on who can lay claim to which parts of the Arctic region. The parties have actually agreed to let the UN decide on this. Russia, Canada, The United States, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland) are the rivals for control. Interest has increased since the US Geological Survey said back in July that some 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30% of its undiscovered gas lies under the Arctic seabed.
It’s a sad state of affairs, but there are actually people looking forward to further melting of the Arctic ice, which could give easier access to more oil and gas. Burning it would then “fuel” the global warming process further and reduce the pressure to increase the use of renewable energy sources.
Representatives of the five “Arctic” countries had a meeting in Greenland last week, but not a lot seems to have come out of it. That’s one of the issues I discussed with Dr. Martin Sommerkorn, WWF’s Arctic climate specialist.
You can listen to or download that longer version of the interview here.
Worrying news. At the same time, the Russians are increasing the pressure to let them exploit the region’s natural resources.
Meanwhile, the official figures on the extent of the Arctic ice confirm the continuing decline.The website of the National Snow and Ice Data Center has the latest information.
Facts and figures on the current state of the Arctic sea ice
DateSeptember 18, 2008 | 11:18 am