Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Arctic Discrepancies

   The Arctic has become an item of increasing interest for economic potential and environmental concerns. Melting of the icecaps is exposing portions of the Arctic that were previously inaccessible. This article explains that the potential for economic gain has been creating political tension among the countries that border the Arctic region, who are rushing to claim territory in the region. Russia is expanding their military presence throughout their Arctic territories. The retreating caps also are creating new shipping routes that would shorten transport time to major cities. Key exploratory drilling projects have been delayed due to failure to fully assess potential impacts and also to lack of funding. Specifically, Shell Oil Company has been consistently unsuccessful in their exploratory missions. According to this article there have been discrepancies in the legitimacy of Shells leases, failures when testing attempts at clean ups, and the DOI ruling on the environmental impact that drilling may have.
   I could laugh at the irony of drilling in the Arctic for fossil fuels that have degraded the ice caps to being with. At the moment I do not think drilling in the Arctic is cost effective for companies and there is too much negative feedback from the public for exploratory projects to proceed. However, if there are technological advances that can withstand the extreme climate and reduce probability of spills, then I think the projects will be more likely to advance. Although Russia has the most experience and capability to explore the Arctic, natural gas makes up most of the resources in their continental shelf. Russia’s increasing presence is probably due to international trade and intent to protect their assets.
--Kelly Nellenbach

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