Shell withdraws from oil drilling in the Alaskan Arctic

The Guardian reports, 28th September 2015: Shell has abandoned its controversial drilling operations in the Alaskan Arctic in the face of mounting opposition in what jubilant environmentalists described as “an unmitigated defeat” for big oil.

The Anglo-Dutch company had repeatedly stressed the enormous hydrocarbon potential of the far north region in public, but in private began to admit it had been surprised by the popular opposition it faced.

Shell said it had made a marginal discovery of oil and gas with its summer exploration in the Chukchi Sea but not enough to continue to the search for the “foreseeable” future.

Shell has spent over $7bn (£4.6bn) on its failed hunt for oil which critics said could only endanger one of the world’s last pristine environments and produce expensive hydrocarbons that were no longer needed.

The Alaskan Arctic was seen as something of a test-bed for potential wider drilling off Greenland, Norway and Russia. Environmentalists hope Shell’s failure will slow that race for riches in the far north. They will also hope it will prevent a build up in military might amid fears of a new cold war.

Anthony Hobley, chief executive of Carbon Tracker, an organisation which repeatedly argued Chukchi exploration was unaffordable, said Shell’s decision to halt in the Arctic is a win for common sense.

“But why did it take $7bn of shareholders’ money to come to this view?” he asked. “Analysis by Carbon Tracker and others clearly showed that Arctic oil needs much higher prices to give investors a decent return. Yet the decision appears a reluctant pause as Shell suggests it would have continued to drill if it had found more oil and gas and it has only halted exploration ‘for the foreseeable future’.

Source: The Guardian, 28th September 2015. For the full details, see www.theguardian.com/business/2015/sep/28/shell-ceases-alaska-arctic-drilling-exploratory-well-oil-gas-disappoints


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