Oil and gas, mining
(Suzanne Goldenberg/The Guardian, 18 January 2013) -- The entire future of Shell's drilling plans in the Arctic was put in doubt on Friday after two of Barack Obama's most trusted advisers called for a permanent halt to oil exploration. In a piece for Bloomberg news, Carol Browner, who was Obama's climate adviser during his first two years in office, and John Podesta, who headed his 2009 transition team, said they now believed there was no safe way to drill for oil in the Arctic. Their opinions come at a critical time for Shell, which has invested six years and nearly $5bn trying to gain access to the vast undersea reserves of oil and natural gas in the Arctic ocean. The Obama administration this month launched a high-level review of Shell's plans for the Arctic, after a series of equipment failures and safety and environmental lapses. The company is also struggling to repair or replace its Kulluk oil rig, which ran aground over the New Year, in order to return to the Arctic when the drilling season re-opens in July. Now two of Obama's advisers are suggesting Shell and other companies should not be operating in the Arctic at all. "Developers and Barack Obama's administration assured us these operations would be safe, thanks to strict oversight and new technology. Now it seems that optimism was misplaced," Browner and Podesta write in a piece for Bloomberg View. "Following a series of mishaps and errors, as well as overwhelming weather conditions, it has become clear that there is no safe and responsible way to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic ocean."
Posted 19 January 2013; 7:25:01 PM. Permalink
(Andreas Østhagen/The Arctic Institute, 19 December 2012) -- The prospect of offshore oil and gas activity in the waters around Greenland constitutes a highly contentious issue in the larger debate on Arctic petroleum development. Given Greenland’s special status as a part of the Danish Realm, with a high degree of self-governance and a majority Inuit population, oil and gas drilling there has engaged actors with a wide range of interests. Arctic oil and gas development is often generalised into a two-sided conflict between those who emphasise the protection of the environment and those who seek potential profits, with the interests of local communities variably used in favour of one or the other depending on the area of the region under question. Some of the dimensions that seem to determine much of the actual development are often lost in this dichotomy, to the dismay of those in favour of an informed debate. Taking into account that Greenland is just one of the many parts of the Arctic that is experiencing this development, with its own unique characteristics, this article sets out to shed light on the importance of internal political and commercial factors when discussing petroleum development around the island.
Posted 4 January 2013; 5:24:21 PM. Permalink
(Marine Science Today, 22 September 2012) -- A committee of Members of Parliament (MPs) in the UK is calling for a complete stop of drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic until certain safety issues have been taken care of. The Environmental Audit Committee has previously voiced their concerns that a spill could cause catastrophic environmental damage. The MPs say that current oil spill cleanup methods are not adequate. They are calling for a pan-Arctic spill response standard, full liability for firms and an environmental sanctuary in the Arctic. Both BP and Shell are involved in Arctic drilling projects. BP’s plans are temporarily on hold and they wouldn’t provide the MPs with evidence that they have an adequate plan for spill response. Shell has stopped drilling for the winter, but they claim that their spill response is adequate. “There appears to be a lack of strategic thinking and policy coherence within Government on this issue, illustrated by its failure to demonstrate how future oil and gas extraction from the Arctic can be reconciled to commitments to limit temperature rises to 2°C,” the MPs said. ”The Government should seek to resolve this matter.” You can read more from the BBC here: MPs call to halt Arctic drilling amid safety concerns.
Posted 22 September 2012; 10:42:47 AM. Permalink
(PennEnergy, 8 May 2012) -- The black gold rush on the roof of the world accelerated on Saturday. Norway's Statoil ASA (NYSE ADR: STO) signed a massive deal with Russian behemoth Rosneft in a venture that may require more than $100 billion over the next few decades. Specifically, the company aims to help Rosneft develop untapped oil resources in the Arctic, as Moscow struggles to gain a competitive advantage given declining oil production in Siberia. It's the third recent oil partnership for Rosneft. ... In the wake of Russia's slumping reserves and production in Siberia, the Kremlin has been looking for ways to incentivize producers to help Rosneft increase production. Tax breaks have been one way, but companies also want a little bit of insurance when they work with Moscow. Just last month, Exxon and Rosneft agreed to begin finalizing their initial $3.2 billion Arctic deal that would require about $200 billion for joint projects in the next decade alone, and the development of 10 ice-proof platforms for the Kara Sea that would cost about $15 billion each.
Posted 9 May 2012; 12:03:08 PM. Permalink
(CBC News via Eye on the Arctic, 5 April 2012) -- The Mackenzie Valley pipeline, an energy megaproject in Canada's North that has been proposed and debated for decades, has been put on hold again. The 1,196-kilometre line would have transported natural gas from the Beaufort Sea to North American markets. The partners behind the proposed $16.2 billion projected halted development because of low prices for natural gas. ConocoPhillips said Thursday that the five partners in the energy development consortium have suspended funding for the project, which would have transported up to 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day. The partners include an aboriginal group funded by Calgary-based TransCanada Corp, Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Imperial Oil Ltd., also of Calgary. ConocoPhillips said the decision was made in the first quarter of this year. "The co-venturers elected to suspend funding of the project due to a continued decline in market conditions and the lack of acceptable commercial terms," it said in a release. The announcement follows a decision less than a week ago by ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP and TransCanada, to work toward developing natural gas reserves on Alaska's North Slope, which would be assessed as an alternative to a natural gas pipeline through Alberta. The state of Alaska has offered up to $500 million in incentives to build a pipeline there. The National Energy Board approved the Mackenzie Valley project in December 2010. The price of natural gas, already at a 10-year low, fell further Thursday after the U.S. government reported a surprisingly large increase in supply. Gas for May delivery fell four cents to $2.11 per thousand cubic feet in New York at midday. The government said supplies expanded last week to a level that's 60.5 per cent higher than the five-year average.
Posted 7 April 2012; 1:17:22 PM. Permalink
(Euractiv via Environmental News Network, 7 April 2012) -- Norwegian and Russian energy relations might be put at risk when it comes to the exploration and acquisition of untapped energy resources in the Arctic with both countries increasing their militarisation in the area, according to Stratfor, an Austin, Texas-based global intelligence company providing geopolitical analysis and commentary. "Norwegian Defence Minister Espen Barth Eide indicated March 28 that the Norwegian army 2nd Battalion would be renamed the "Arctic Battalion" and equipped to patrol the country's Arctic territory. ... The Arctic, which is estimated to hold vast untapped oil and natural gas reserves, has become more relevant to geopolitics over the past decade. ...Norway and Russia have been highlighting their territorial claims in preparation for potential mineral extraction. Competition in the Arctic will strain the countries' relationship, though a hard break in relations is unlikely as long as both benefit from bilateral cooperation, such as between their state energy companies, Statoil and Gazprom. However, Norway will work to contain Russia's influence in the Arctic by strengthening its military partnerships with other countries in the region. Norway's latest plans are part of a decade-long programme to modernise its military, with a stronger focus on the Arctic and Russia.... Russia ... has been operating along routinely for decades, [and] already has strong military capabilities there. Despite this militarisation, Russia and Norway continue their cooperation in the energy sphere. Lacking significant offshore arctic drilling technology, Gazprom relies on Statoil's technological capacity to develop Russia's Shtokman project in the Barents Sea.... The countries also continue a cooperative military relationship, exemplified by the POMOR annual naval exercises held in May. The true test of this working relationship in the Arctic will be the exploration and acquisition of untapped energy resources. At that point, the extent of the cooperation between Statoil and Gazprom will be an important indicator of the countries' wider bilateral relationship."
Posted 7 April 2012; 1:14:33 PM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/BarentsObserver, 27 March 2012) -- Norway has started preparations for a new coal mine on the Arctic Arcipelago of Svalbard. This week the Norwegian contractor Veidekke started construction of a three kilometer long road to Mount Lunckefjell across the Martha glacier. “The biggest challenge is to get all the machinery and equipment transported from Svea across the glaciers”, says Jostein Nordstrøm in Veidekke Contractors to Svalbardposten. His company has to clear tons of snow and ice away before they can start building a new road through the frozen glacial soil. The road is expected to be ready in August, and then the actual work on digging the new mine can start. Lunckefjell contains some 8.2 million tons of sales coal according to the mining company Store Norske. The company regards exploitation of the deposit as a natural continuation of the current mining operations in Svea Nord. Costs connected to opening of the new mine are estimated to be some NOK 1 billion. Norway’s current coal mine in Svea Nord will run out of resources within the next few years. The state-owned company Store Norske in September 2010 adopted a business plan for opening a new coal mine in Lunckefjell, just north of the current mine. The Norwegian Government gave green light for the plans in December 2011, after the Ministry of Environment came to the conclusion that the new coal mine can be opened without coming into contradiction with the environmental laws and regulations on Svalbard. A dilemma for the new mine in Lunckefjell is that the mine, although underground, will slightly be in the vicinity of the Nordenskiöld Land national park.
Posted 2 April 2012; 3:07:25 PM. Permalink
(Julie Gordon/Reuters via MineWeb.com, 2 April 2012) -- TORONTO - The prospects of a mining boom in Canada's Arctic territory of Nunavut - once as bright as the Northern Lights - are fading fast as costs in the inhospitable region spiral higher, forcing writedowns on two major gold projects there. The sparsely populated territory has gained a reputation as one of the most promising regions in Canada for exploration, with prospectors promoting discoveries ranging from gold to uranium. But getting the ore out of the ground is a different story entirely. While climate change has made it easier to find mineral deposits in Nunavut, the task of mining is complicated by a lack of roads and other infrastructure, the still-crippling cold and the challenge of attracting and retaining an adventurous workforce. Agnico-Eagle Mines, which owns the only working mine in Nunavut, recently booked a partial writedown on changes to the mine plan at Meadowbank, while cash costs at the gold mine have risen to more than $1,000 per ounce. That happened just months after a fire destroyed the mine's kitchen, crippling staffing levels and slashing into 2011 gold output, illustrating how susceptible remote projects are to the even the smallest operational hiccups. "It is a high-cost part of the world to operate in," said Agnico's chief executive, Sean Boyd. "There are risks in that part of the world, no doubt about it."
Posted 2 April 2012; 12:53:22 PM. Permalink
(YLE News, 26 March 2012) -- Finland's environment minister Ville Niinistö says there's room for more mines in Lapland, in the country's Arctic, if mining companies are willing to carry social responsibility. Ville Niinistö notes that there are no major differences in views concerning mining operations within the coalition government. Those that do exist have narrowed over the past year. "During the past year, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, and Economy Minister Häkämies, have had their eyes opened to the fact that mining cannot be promoted if environmental issues are not taken seriously from the start. There is room for more mines in Lapland, if mining companies are willing to carry their social responsibilities," Niinistö told Yle. Economy Minister Jyri Häkämies calculates the mining could create thousands of new jobs in Lapland over the next three years. It's estimated that over four billion euros will be invested in mining there. "There is no such thing as a green mine, but mines can be made to have a lesser impact on the environment. Environmental technology projects are important. They can provide Finnish companies with new export opportunities," Ville Niinistö pointed out. However, the Environment Minister also wants to ensure that the economic benefits of mining actually remain in the country. "Mining laws are still liberal. If the degree of processing remains low, the benefits flow abroad."
Posted 26 March 2012; 10:15:08 PM. Permalink
(U.S. Department of the Interior press release via PennEnergy, 17 February 2012) -- Building on the Obama Administration’s record of taking steps to expand safe and responsible development of our nation’s oil and gas resources, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the next steps toward energy exploration activities in shallow waters in the Arctic during a limited period this summer. Today’s announcement is informed by the latest science, and continues to be guided by important new safety standards as well as lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Those steps include: today’s approval by DOI’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) of Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc.’s (Shell) Oil Spill Response Plan (OSRP) for the Chukchi Sea; coordinated exercises and emergency response planning by U.S. agencies in the Arctic; expanded scientific work, information collection and data sharing among agencies, industry, and research institutions to inform Arctic planning; and undertaking long-term, landscape-scale planning for the Arctic. These steps are the latest in a series of initiatives in line with President Obama’s commitment to an all-of-the-above energy approach, which includes a focus on the safe and responsible production of homegrown oil and natural gas resources by American workers.
Posted 20 February 2012; 4:23:01 PM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden via Eye on the Arctic, 1 February 2012) -- This week is festival time in the Arctic Circle town of Jokkmokk in Sweden's Far North. But not all the Sami, the indigenous people of Sweden's Arctic, will be celebrating. Mining, forestry and hydroelectricity provide lucrative business opportunities across northern Sweden. But exploiting natural resources often leads to conflict with Sami herders when reindeer grazing areas are blocked or damaged. High mineral and iron ore prices have led to an explosion in prospecting in recent years and increased the number of conflicts, with a regular stream of objections being brought to court. One of them centres on a mine planned just 40 kilometres west of Jokkmokk. The mining company Beowulf has been accused of illegal test drills that damage Sami grazing lands. Mattias Pirak from the Jåhkågaska Sami reindeer herding community told Sami Radio that opportunities to make big profits from iron ore should not be an excuse to destroy the environment. ... Pirak and other Sami herders are organising a demonstration to coincide with one the most visible demonstrations of Sami culture. Every year the Jokkmokk parade provides a blaze of colour in the dark of winter as herders lead their reindeer through the snow in traditional dress. The market is expecting about 40,000 visitors many of them foreign tourists, and the Sami protestors will also target them with flyers printed in English. However Mattias Pirak says that after the market protest his community will continue with their campaign — and that they will never give up.
Posted 1 February 2012; 11:57:23 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 23 January 2012) -- Greenlandic authorities have opened bidding on oil prospecting licences to the east of the country for the first time. Interest is said to be strong, with over 70 oil companies attending the Greenlanders’ open meeting on the subject last month in Copenhagen. The areas for which search licences are being offered lie in the high Arctic; far north of Iceland and not too far from Svalbard. They are north of Scoresbysund between 75 and 79 degrees north. The areas are being offered in two stages; the first in 2012 and the second in 2013. Applications from oil companies to be permitted to take part must be received by the 1st March and for specific location licences, by the 15th December. The exploration licences will last for 16 years, with the option for extension up to 30 years. It is now ten years since oil exploration licences were first offered off western Greenland and the country has since offered a new area for exploration on average once every two years, Vísir.is reports. There are some 20 licences currently active, which are held by companies including Statoil, ExxonMobil, BP, ChevronTexaco, Shell and Japan Oil. Canada’s Husky Energy has announced it will drill two test wells in Greenlandic waters in summer 2013. The first company to find oil and gas in Greenland was the UK’s Cairn Energy in the autumn of 2010 off Disko Island, 200 km north of Nuuk. The company put its programme on hold this winter, however, after drilling eight holes at great cost, without finding enough evidence of fossil fuels to make it worthwhile.
Posted 23 January 2012; 10:20:46 PM. Permalink
(Michael Byers/Toronto Star, 28 December 2011) -- NOVOSIBIRSK, RUSSIA - Arctic. There is no likelihood of Arctic states going to war.” The Russian foreign ministry’s representative in Siberia smiles as he quotes the Canadian Prime Minister, as reported in a U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks. Although Stephen Harper never expected that his conversation with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen would be made public, the analysis was entirely correct. Here in Novosibirsk (pop. 1.5 million), people are more interested in trade and investment opportunities than geopolitical conspiracies. ... Siberia is larger than Canada and its resource industry more developed, in part a legacy of the Stalinist era drive for self-sufficiency. Fully 20 per cent of Russia’s GDP comes from this vast, sparsely populated territory. ... Russia also has massive deposits of oil and gas, both onshore and offshore. Earlier this year, Russia and Norway settled the Arctic’s largest sovereignty dispute — by dividing a contested portion of the Barents Sea exactly in half. ... Unlocking Russia’s Arctic treasure chest will require new transportation routes. Some Siberian officials envisage a railway to the Bering Strait and beyond through a tunnel to North America. It’s easy to dismiss the plan as unrealistic, until you remember that the Trans-Siberian Railway connecting Europe to China and the Pacific was once also only a dream. ... Russia is intent on turning the Northern Sea Route into a commercially viable alternative to the Strait of Malacca and the Suez Canal. There is just one fly in the ointment: the United States, which opposes Russia’s claim that key parts of the Northern Sea Route constitute Russian internal waters. Significantly, the Russian legal position is identical to that taken by Canada with respect to the Northwest Passage, where the only country that opposes Canada’s internal waters claim is, once again, the United States. During a conference in Novosibirsk, I explain that the Soviet Union had expressed support for Canada’s legal position when the U.S. sent an icebreaker through the Northwest Passage in 1985. A Russian professor asks the logical question: “Did Canada ever support the Soviet Union’s Northern Sea Route claim?” I reply that, although mutual recognition would have strengthened both countries’ legal positions, Canada could never have supported the Soviets in a Cold War dispute with the United States. The professor looks at me quizzically: “But the Cold War is over, nyet? Russia, after all, is about to join the WTO.”
Posted 31 December 2011; 1:43:41 PM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden/Eye on the Arctic, 30 December 2011) -- The job market is bright in Norrbotten County, fuelled by growing global demand for iron-ore and other industrial and precious metals. And while the ground under the city of Kiruna is sinking because of the iron ore mine, it is precisely because of that iron ore, that the job market is soaring. “In Kiruna we have 2.8 percent unemployment,” says Terje Raattamaa, the head of the Employment Office in Kiruna. “That is one of the lowest unemployment rates in Sweden.” Just outside the small mining town of Pajala, Northland Resources, an international mining company, is currently building two new iron ore mines. “We’ve done exploration during the past seven years, but before we started the construction last year, there was just a swamp area and trees here,” says Niclas Dahlström from Northland Resources. “Now we’re investing over US $720 million in the site.” Northland Resources already has three large customers that will buy every single ounce of iron ore the company produces during its first decade. Two traders, Standard Bank and Stemcor, will buy the product and sell it. The third customer, the large steel conglomerate Tata Steel, will use the raw material itself. Northland Resources says it will employ hundreds of people. “During the next two years we’ll employ 400 new people and about 200 people working with logistics, driving large trucks to put the product on rail,” says Dahlström.
Posted 30 December 2011; 6:14:45 PM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/BarentsObserver, 19 December 2011) -- Russian media is now asking why the whole crew stayed onboard during the towing of the oil jack-up rig ”Kolskaya” that overturned and sank in the Sea of Okhotsk yesterday. With the break of day, search for survivors and dead after the accident outside the island of Sakhalin continued. 14 dead have so far been found, the Federal Agency for Sea and River Transport's web site reads. The rig sank in course of only 20 minutes, Murmansk Oblast Governor Dmitry Dmitriyenko told RIA Novosti. 32 of the 67 people aboard came from the Murmansk region. 14 persons were found alive after the accident and picked up by boats taking part in the rescue operation. All the 14 survivors were on duty on deck during the towing and were wearing survival suits and life-jackets. ... Russian media is now asking why the whole crew stayed onboard during the towing, and why towing was conducted at all in such bad weather. A source in the Federal Agency for Sea and River Transport says to Kommersant that half of the people onboard had nothing to do with the towing operation – they were drilling operators, crane operators and others. – The number of casualties did not have to be that high, the source says. According to Russian instructions for safety at sea, only a required minimum of personnel should be onboard a vessel that is being towed. The Russian Agency for Transport Supervision has started investigation of the accident. The weather in the area is bad, with wind of 10 m/s, waves of 2 meters and temperature of -2°C. The water temperature is 1°C.
Posted 19 December 2011; 10:36:35 AM. Permalink
(Lisa Demer/Anchorage Daily News, 6 December 2011) -- A longtime Shell contractor has nearly completed a massive, customized icebreaking ship for the company's drilling projects in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska. The icebreaker is part of a specialized fleet Shell hopes to deploy for exploration drilling next summer, if it can clear all the legal and regulatory hurdles. Named the Aiviq, the Eskimo word for walrus, the $200 million, 360-foot steel vessel's main job will be to move anchor lines that will attach drilling rigs to the sea floor in the shallow Arctic. But it's also on standby in case of an oil spill -- it could recover about 10,000 barrels of spilled crude. The ship was designed to cut through ice a meter thick and likely will be able to move through thicker ice, its builder says. It can operate at minus 58 degrees. Shell points to the ship as evidence that it's serious about drilling in -- and protecting -- the fragile Arctic. Edison Chouest Offshore is building the ship at its Larose shipyard, North American Shipbuilding.
Posted 17 December 2011; 7:05:11 PM. Permalink
(Canadian Press via Eye on the Arctic, 28 November 2011) -- Inuit in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut expect to receive hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade after passing a resolution to charge a new royalty on Arctic resources. The group that administers the Nunavut land claim, Nunavut Tunngavik, says it will start collecting the 12 per cent royalty on April 1, 2013. Nunavut Tunngavik estimates it will collect nearly half a billion dollars from the royalty in its first six years. The money will be placed in a trust fund and spent by Inuit organizations. Mining groups say the royalty was expected and isn't likely to affect operations in the territory. Nunavut's mining industry is increasingly active, with $2.4 billion spent on exploration since 1999 and 82 active properties.
Posted 30 November 2011; 11:28:37 AM. Permalink
(Gwladys Fouche/Reuters, 23 November 2011) -- OSLO - The waters off a tiny Norwegian Arctic island may hold vast amounts of oil and gas, the Nordic country's authorities said, as they prepare to open the zone for exploration by oil firms. Recent geologic studies conducted in the seas off the volcanic Jan Mayen island, a speck of land some 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) west of Norway situated to the east of Greenland and the north-east of Iceland, have been promising, according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD). "The samples from the seabed around Jan Mayen are outstanding," the agency's head of exploration, Sissel Eriksen, said in a statement late on Tuesday. "We don't yet have enough information for the NPD to give a resource estimate for the area, but we are very optimistic after seeing the data," she added. The study is part of a larger move by Norway, the world's eighth-largest oil exporter and the second largest for gas, to encourage oil exploration in its vast offshore Arctic areas. The oil and energy ministry said last month it would go ahead with an impact assessment study of the Jan Mayen area, which marks the first formal step towards opening the zone to oil companies. It is as yet unclear when the area will be open in practice to oil firms, but the process usually takes several years. The NPD, which manages Norway's oil and gas resources, said the studies had revealed good-quality sandstone that could act as a reservoir to oil and gas deposits. A type of rock similar to that off Greenland, where oil companies are already exploring for oil and gas, was also found, Eriksen said.
Posted 23 November 2011; 11:36:33 PM. Permalink
(Reuters via Arabian Business, 13 November 2011) -- Qatar is in negotiations to take a stake in an Arctic liquefied natural gas (LNG) project under development by number-two Russian gas producer Novatek, Qatar's energy minister said on Sunday. The Yamal project will develop the South Tambey field located in the Arctic area of the Yamal peninsula. "Qatar is very much interested in investment generally in oil, gas and petrochemicals. Yamal is an important project and we are really interested in participating in its development," the minister, Mohammed al-Sada, told reporters on the sidelines of an event on Sunday. "We are in active discussions and negotiations with our partners," Sada said. Resources from the condensate and gas field are expected to produce 5 million tonnes of LNG per year when production starts in 2016 and reach 15 million tonnes per year in 2018.
Posted 14 November 2011; 4:16:52 PM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 4 November 2011) -- The world's northernmost railway line will be taken further. The line, which was built by Gazprom as supply line to the huge Bovanenkovo gas field, will be taken further north to Kharasevey, regional Governor Dmitry Kobylkin confirms to journalists. Regional authorities and Gazprom have already agreed about formalities with the project, Oilru.com reports. As previously reported, the Bovanenkovo railway was officially opened early 2011. The 572-km-long connection ends up in the station of Obskaya, where it joins ends with the national Russian railway grid. The gas-rich Yamal Peninsula is top priority for Gazprom, which is now investing big sums in regional field development. The 4.9 trillion cubic meter Bovanenkovo field is due to come into production in 2012, after which several more regional fields are in line. Among them is the Kharasaveyskoye, another huge field, located not far north of the Bovanenkovo. Unlike other Russian railway lines, the Obskaya-Bovanenkovo line is owned by Gazprom. As previously reported, the Russian Railways have been invited to take over the line, but has shown little interest. In addition to railway and field development in Yamal, Gazprom is also investing in the laying of the Bovanenkovo-Ukhta gas pipeline.
Posted 11 November 2011; 11:20:53 PM. Permalink
(Asahi Shimbun, 20 October 2011) -- Japan is set to join an international scramble to develop an oil field in the Arctic Circle as parts of its strategy to diversify sources of supply. A quasi-public investment firm, funded by an independent administrative agency and several leading Japanese companies, will tender a bid for the right to develop an oil field off the coast of Greenland next year. The oil field, located northeast of the Danish territory, lies on a continental-shelf floor between 100 and 500 meters below surface. It covers an area of about 50,000 square kilo meters and is the closest known oil field to the north pole. The government of Greenland will announce next year the areas where it will allow exploratory drilling. The site to be opened for exploration covers 30,000 square kilo meters. Bidding will be carried out following the announcement. Among the organizations funding the investment firm, called Greenland Petroleum Exploration Co., are Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. (JOGMEC), an administrative agency handling natural resources-related matters; INPEX Corp. a leading natural resources producer; Idemitsu Kosan Co., a major oil supplier; and trading house Sumitomo Corp. The winner of the bidding will be announced in mid-December 2012 after screening.
Posted 21 October 2011; 1:05:34 PM. Permalink
(RedOrbit - Science, 6 August 2011) -- Shell, the largest oil company in Europe, has been given conditional approval by American government officials to begin drilling exploration wells in the Arctic Ocean in 2012, Alex Ogle of the AFP reported on Friday. In a statement released Thursday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) confirmed that the Department of the Interior has, in Ogle's words, "opened the doors to Shell's proposal for four shallow water exploration wells in Alaska's Beaufort Sea to start in July 2012, said in a statement Thursday." "We base our decisions regarding energy exploration and development in the Arctic on the best scientific information available," BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich told AFP, adding that they agency would review Shell's activities to ensure that they acted in a "safe and environmentally responsible manner." Shell, who still needs to obtain permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Marine Fisheries Service, among others, welcomed the news, saying that they had "cautious optimism" that they would be able to drill there in a year's time. Environmental groups were less pleased. "This is a disaster waiting to happen, but still BOEMRE is moving forward with Arctic Ocean drilling," Earthjustice attorney Holly Harris said in a statement Thursday, according to Ogle.
Posted 8 August 2011; 4:22:16 PM. Permalink
(Edward Welsch/Market Watch, 16 July 2011) -- CALGARY - Royal Dutch Shell PLC said Friday it plans to sell its stake in a C$16.2-billion Northwest Territories natural-gas pipeline project, as well as its other assets in a vast natural-gas basin in the territory. The fate of the MacKenzie Gas Project, which would bring natural gas from fields bordering the Arctic Ocean to markets in North America, has long been in doubt. Regulators approved the project last year, but other partners including ConocoPhillips and Imperial Oil Ltd., controlled by Exxon Mobil Corp., haven't committed to build it. A Shell spokesman wouldn't provide details on the company's decision to sell its assets in MacKenzie, other than that it was part of Shell's normal review of its holdings. "Shell still believes the project is important for Canada," the spokesman said. Work on the MacKenzie gas pipeline was suspended in 2007 after a regulatory process dragged on. It was finally approved by regulators late last year, after a six-year review process. But during that review, the economic rationale for bringing natural gas from the far north eroded, as a surge in new shale gas supplies were being unlocked in the U.S. and other parts of Canada by new drilling technology. In addition to its stake in the pipeline project, which would include a gathering system and processing facility, Shell's Niglintgak natural-gas field in the area will also be put up for sale. The Shell spokesman said the company has prepared a package of data on its assets in the MacKenzie Delta and has made it available to potential buyers.
Posted 17 July 2011; 11:02:39 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 12 May 2011) -- Ecologists have warned that it is too soon to judge what environmental impact an oil slick in the Barents Sea has had. The oil spilled into the sea in the Kandalaksha Bay, off the northern Russian port city of Murmansk, after melt water carried oil from beneath the soil offshore on May 7. Officials say the oil is up to 5 millimeters thick in places. An area of the sea covering 210,000 square meters is polluted, the latest satellite data indicates. Scientists say it is too soon to gauge the full extent of the incident. "It is still hard to assess the consequences of the oil slick for animals and birds of the Kandalaksha wildlife park," Ivetta Tatarenkova, a scientist at the park, which is situated on the coast, told RIA Novosti on Wednesday. "The spill may pose a threat to eider ducks," she said. "The invertebrates - mussels, small crustaceans and others - may also suffer at the hands of the spill," she added. Efforts are underway to clean up the slick.
Posted 19 May 2011; 2:46:27 PM. Permalink
(Clifford Krauss/New York Times, 1 May 2011) -- SAVOONGA, Alaska — Shell Oil will present an ambitious proposal to the federal government this week, seeking permission to drill up to 10 exploratory oil wells beneath Alaska’s frigid Arctic waters. The forbidding ice-clogged region is believed to hold vast reserves of oil, potentially enough to fuel 25 million cars for 35 years. And with production in Alaska’s North Slope in steep decline, the oil industry is eager to tap new offshore wells. Shell has led the way, working for five years to convince regulators, environmentalists, Native Alaskans and several courts that it could manage the process safely, protect polar bears and other wildlife, safeguard air quality for residents and respond quickly to any spill in the region. But BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster a year ago put a chill on new offshore drilling. Shell’s renewed application will pose a test for President Obama, who promised to put safety first after the BP spill. But he has also reiterated his support for offshore drilling amid voter worries about rising gasoline prices. Environmental groups say a spill in the Arctic’s inaccessible waters could be even more catastrophic than the Gulf of Mexico accident. Republicans, meanwhile, are threatening to excoriate the president for turning his back on energy security if he says no to Shell. “Americans are reeling from staggering prices at the pump,” said Representative Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “So the president has to justify to the American people why we are not replacing Saudi Arabian oil imports with U.S.-produced oil.” Whatever the administration decides, it will anger somebody. “If the Obama administration approves drilling in the Arctic, it will demonstrate that they have learned nothing from the gulf spill,” said Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, which is suing to stop Shell.
Posted 1 May 2011; 11:48:38 PM. Permalink
(Pierre-Henry Deshayes/AFP via Yahoo! News, 24 April 2011) -- OSLO (AFP) – The oil and gas majors are looking to the promise of the Barents Sea, attracted by Norway's political stability against a backdrop of unrest in the Middle East and falling North Sea output. Of 24 offshore oil and gas production licenses Norway awarded on April 15, half were in the Barents Sea in the Arctic, an unprecedented number. "There is unprecedented interest in our northernmost seas," Norway's Petroleum and Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe said of the licensing round, adding "the present level of activity in the Barents Sea is high and increasing." Since peaking in 2001 at round three million barrels per day, Norway's oil ouput has declined steadily to around two mbpd currently. With reserves in the North Sea shrinking and major discoveries becoming rarer, Norway has decided to open up its northernmost waters in response to industry pressure and the need to ensure a steady source of income for its generous welfare state. Exploration and development in the Arctic is technologically complex and expensive, with companies having to come with extremely low temperatures, sea ice, long distances from existing infrastructure and total darkness in winter. But soaring oil prices and technological advances have made the region attractive despite the challenges, with the Arctic as a whole perhaps containing 13 percent of the oil and 30 percent of the gas on the planet not yet discovered, according to the US Geological survey. Among the firms awarded licenses earlier this month were Norwegian state-owned giant Statoil, France's GDF Suez, US giant ExxonMobil, Eni of Italy, German RWE Dea and Britain's BG.
Posted 24 April 2011; 2:35:35 PM. Permalink
(Yamal News, 13 April 2011) -- The modern multifunctional port Sabetta will be built on Yamal peninsula. This information was given by the first deputy governor of Yamal Vladimir Vladimirov in the course of the working trip to the settlement Seyakha (Yamalskiy district). By the information given in the press-service of the governor of Yamal, Vladimir Vladimirov conducted the conference with the head of Yamalskiy district Andrey Nesterouk, the head of the settlement Seyakha Igor Okotetto and the deputy chairperson of the administration of "NOVATEK" Yevgeniy Kot. The sides discussed questions of assistance to building of the port Sabetta on Yamal peninsula. The necessity of this building is stipulated with a decision not to bring shipment of liquefied gas farther to the north of the peninsula but to tie it to extractive fields. For realization of this project "NOVATEK" and the government of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug are to conduct bottom dredging on the waterway of Ob Estuary. The port Sabetta can become the key link in the scheme of transportation of not only liquefied gas from Yamal, but also products of fish and venison processing. By the words of Vladimir Vladimirov, if it will be possible to come out to the world level, without doubts, cargoes from Seyakha and Sabetta will go both to Europe and Asia.
Posted 17 April 2011; 11:57:56 AM. Permalink
(Jim Bell/Nunatsiaq News, 4 April 2011) -- SISIMIUT, GREENLAND - For Hans Henrichsen, manager of the Greenland School of Minerals and Petroleum in Sisimiut, there’s only one standard worth reaching for: best of class. “We are taking the best of the best in Greenland. Our goal is to prove that Greenland miners are as good as any around the world,” Henrichsen said March 31 to a group of visitors from Nunavut. Agnico-Eagles Mines Ltd. flew the group to Greenland following a two-day tour of the company’s gold mine in Kittilä, Finland, where the Nunavut visitors met numerous highly educated Finns who have landed good jobs in mining. On the Greenland leg of the tour, the group learned how an Inuit jurisdiction has figured out a way to deliver that education. Henrichsen said the Greenland government decided in 2007 to build a new mining school in Sisimiut to meet a big national goal: training at least 1,500 Greenlanders for the mining industry. That’s because Greenland expects seven to eight new mines will emerge there within the next decade, producing lead, zinc, diamonds, iron, gold, molybdenum and rare earths. In 2008, the school began accepting students. Since then, 123 of 128 people who signed up for training programs have completed their courses, Henrichsen said.
Posted 4 April 2011; 3:47:38 PM. Permalink
(Andrew E. Kramer and Clifford Krauss/New York Times, 16 February 2011) -- The Arctic Ocean is a forbidding place for oil drillers. But that is not stopping Russia from jumping in — or Western oil companies from eagerly following. Russia, where onshore oil reserves are slowly dwindling, last month signed an Arctic exploration deal with the British petroleum giant BP, whose offshore drilling prospects in the United States were dimmed by the Gulf of Mexico disaster last year. Other Western oil companies, recognizing Moscow’s openness to new ocean drilling, are now having similar discussions with Russia. New oil from Russia could prove vital to world supplies in coming decades, now that it has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil producer, and as long as global demand for oil continues to rise. But as the offshore Russian efforts proceed, the oil companies will be venturing where other big countries ringing the Arctic Ocean — most notably the United States and Canada — have been wary of letting oil field development proceed, for both safety and environmental reasons. ... The Arctic holds one-fifth of the world’s undiscovered, recoverable oil and natural gas, the United States Geological Survey estimates. According to a 2009 report by the Energy Department, 43 of the 61 significant Arctic oil and gas fields are in Russia. The Russian side of the Arctic is particularly rich in natural gas, while the North American side is richer in oil. While the United States and Canada balk, other countries are clearing Arctic space for the industry. Norway, which last year settled a territorial dispute with Russia, is preparing to open new Arctic areas for drilling. Last year Greenland, which became semi-autonomous from Denmark in 2009, allowed Cairn Energy to do some preliminary drilling. Cairn, a Scottish company, is planning four more wells this year, while Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Shell are also expected to drill in the area over the next few years. But of the five countries with Arctic Ocean coastline, Russia has the most at stake in exploring and developing the region. “Russia is one of the fundamental building blocks in world oil supply,” said Daniel Yergin, the oil historian and chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. “It has a critical role in the global energy balance. The Arctic will be one of the critical factors in determining how much oil Russia is producing in 15 years and exporting to the rest of the world.”
Posted 18 February 2011; 2:49:51 PM. Permalink
(Randy Boswell/Postmedia News via Vancouver Sun, 15 February 2011) -- It's being touted as the finest diamond ever found in Canada, a "breathtaking," 78-carat rock from the Ekati mine site near Yellowknife. Mine owner BHP Billiton was expecting a possible Canadian price record Monday at a Valentine's Day auction at the company's diamond centre in Belgium. The results of the sale weren't immediately available. "It has absolutely stunning gem quality," BHP Billiton representative Alexander Legaree said of the diamond, which was unearthed in October. "It's internally flawless and it's completely colourless, which is pretty rare for diamonds to begin with, but especially that size." He said the gem is about as big as the top joint of an adult thumb. It was to be offered in "rough cut" form to a select group of potential buyers at the sale in Antwerp. The gem was described by the company as "the most significant gem-quality diamond to be discovered" at the Northwest Territories mine since it opened in October 1998. "The diamond is potentially the most valuable stone in the mine's 13-year history," BHP Billiton said in a statement announcing the sale. The diamond, measured at 21 x 18 x 13 millimetres, would have had to fetch more than $1.2 million to surpass a pear-shaped, 10.22-carat gem from Ekati that stands as the single most valuable diamond from the mine. Larger stones have been dug out at Ekati, which is located 300 km northeast of Yellowknife. The biggest of them all, a 182-carat diamond discovered at the site several years ago, was of a lower quality and therefore less valuable than the gem being sold in Belgium. The 78-carat diamond was named Ekati Spirit after a contest open to BHP Billiton staff and contracted employees. "The name represents the people of the North, the communities in which we operate, and those who have helped define our distinguished history," the company said.
Posted 15 February 2011; 3:44:21 PM. Permalink
(Julia Werdigier/New York Times, 14 January 2011) -- The British oil giant BP agreed on Friday to a partnership with Rosneft, a Russian company, forming an alliance to explore the Russian Arctic. ... The two companies would explore three license blocks on the Russian Arctic continental shelf that were awarded to Rosneft last year and span about 50,000 square miles. ... The agreement allows BP to expand its operation in Russia at a time when the demand for energy is rising and competition to explore new fields is heating up. “We are very pleased to be joining Russia’s leading oil company to jointly explore some of the most promising parts of the Russian Arctic, one of the world’s last remaining unexplored basins,” Mr. Dudley said in a statement. “This unique agreement underlines our long-term, strategic and deepening links with the world’s largest hydrocarbon-producing nation,” he added. The deal drew immediate calls for a review by a lawmaker in Washington, who noted that BP was the top petroleum supplier to the United States military in 2009.
Posted 15 January 2011; 11:02:40 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 7 December 2010) -- A Northwest Territories aboriginal group is taking the federal government to court for quietly opening a vast area of once-protected northern wilderness to mining claims. The Dehcho First Nations has asked the Federal Court to overturn Ottawa's order removing an existing ban on subsurface mining in the Horn Plateau, a 25,000-square-kilometre area in the south-central part of the territory. In its application for a judicial review dated Nov. 29, the Dehcho said the federal government's decision to remove the subsurface mining ban breaches an agreement made through the N.W.T. Protected Areas Strategy. The news comes as Ottawa announced proposed boundaries this week for a national marine park in Lancaster Sound, located at the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage. The Horn Plateau region is the source of the Horn, Willowlake and Rabbitskin rivers, serves as a nesting area for migratory birds, and is a habitat for caribou, wood bison and wolverine species. The Dehcho Dene consider the area — which they call Edehzhie in the Slavey language — to be a sacred place and an important hunting ground. It is also known to have potentially significant oil and gas deposits. The Horn Plateau area has been under interim protection since 2002. Shortly before that protection was set to expire in October, the federal Indian and Northern Affairs Department issued an order-in-council extending that protection until 2012.
Posted 17 December 2010; 11:38:21 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 12 November 2010) -- The LKAB company in northern Sweden has found iron ore worth more than one billion Swedish kroner in its 50-year old waste deposit. "It is absolutely fantastic that we have found ore in our old rock deposits," LKAB representative Anna Tyni told Swedish Radio. The ore was discovered in more than 50-years old rock piles, newspaper Dagens Industri reports. The LKAB company is with its iron mines in and around Kiruna a cornerstone company in northern Sweden.
Posted 13 November 2010; 7:58:10 PM. Permalink
(Andrei Ozharovsky/Bellona, 9 November 2010) -- MOSCOW – A scram of Reactor 2 at Bilibino Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Russia’s Far Northeast late last October took the unit out of operation for 36 hours — bringing into doubt the ongoing attempts to modernise the obsolete and worn-out equipment at this first-generation NPP, which was commissioned as far back as the 1970s. According to reports by the public information service of the Russian NPP operator, concern Rosenergoatom, and the press service of Bilibino’s production and engineering department, the scram occurred on October 27, 2010 at 07:12 p.m. local time. The reactor was taken back online on October 29 at 05:32 a.m. local time. The scram was ascribed to a “false signal generated by the protection equipment.” The reactor was thus offline for 34 hours, providing no power or heat to the Chaun-Bilibino energy system. One circumstance that causes additional concerns regarding the latest shutdown at Bilibino is that it occurred only two weeks after three-day unscheduled repairs – October 11 through 14 – ended at the reactor. There have been no reports as to why the repairs were needed in the first place. It can be speculated that the repairs had to do with modernising the very protection and safety systems which generated a false alarm signal and brought the reactor down on October 27. Reactor Unit 2 at Bilibino NPP was commissioned in 1974. According to design projections, it was supposed to have run out its 30-year operational lifetime in 2004, and decommissioned after that. However – as has been common enough practice at Russian nuclear power plants, such as Kola NPP in Murmansk Region in Russia’s Far North – the reactor’s license was extended, allowing it to operate for another 15 years, or until 2019. ... Bilibino NPP was built beyond the polar circle, in an area covered by permafrost, in Chukotka Autonomous District. There are risks to its safety and integrity beyond the common equipment failures plaguing Russian nuclear power plants – namely, global warming. As permafrost melts, even partial thawing can cause thermokarst to appear – very irregular surfaces of marshy hollows and small hummocks formed as a result of thawing ice-rich permafrost. The melting permafrost phenomenon already presents a grave danger for Russian towns and cities in the far north, where buildings and infrastructure – including oil production and transport facilities – are predicted come under threat as the ground beneath becomes unstable. Should such risks loom close over Bilibino, the reactors will have to be shut down anyway: No listing is permissible for a structure as sensitive and potentially hazardous as a nuclear power plant.
Posted 11 November 2010; 10:54:02 PM. Permalink
(Ilya Khrennikov/Bloomberg, 18 October 2010) -- OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel’s polar division, the mining company’s biggest earner in the past decade, will spend $20 billion by 2030 to stop production from falling, according to its head Evgeny Muravyov. The division must invest in new projects to counter dwindling output as the ore it mines yields less metal, Muravyov said in an interview in Norilsk, a town north of Siberia where the unit is based. The division must raise ore output by about 3 percent a year to keep nickel production flat, he said. The polar business has accounted for as much as 80 percent of Norilsk Nickel’s profit since the company’s sale by the state in 1997, and fueled its expansion abroad. Its metallurgical complex north of the Arctic Circle has mined more than $200 billion of nickel, copper, palladium and platinum -- based on current prices -- since 1935, when prisoners of Josef Stalin’s labor camps began production there. At stake is the productivity a company that supplies 22 percent of the world’s nickel, a silvery metal used in stainless steel and batteries, and 40 percent of the world’s palladium, used in jewelry and pollution-control equipment for vehicles. “We still have reserves sufficient for at least 80 years and can mine another $200 billion of metals and hopefully more, as the share of more expensive platinum-group metals in our production is set to increase in 20 years,” Muravyov said.
Posted 31 October 2010; 2:52:17 PM. Permalink
(Jeffrey Jones/Reuters, 15 October 2010) -- CALGARY, Alberta - A panel that studied the environmental and social impact of a C$16.2 billion ($16 billion) Canadian Arctic gas pipeline is rebuking Ottawa's efforts to reject many of its recommendations in a dispute that is delaying the line's regulatory decision. In a lengthy letter to Environment Minister Jim Prentice's office, Robert Hornal, chairman of the Mackenzie Gas Project's Joint Review Panel, said the 176 recommendations in his panel's key report must be preserved to prevent any adverse environmental and socioeconomic impact on the Northwest Territories. The letter was in response to the governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories, which contend many of recommendations in the JRP report, issued late last year, are beyond the panel's scope or are already being undertaken or considered outside the pipeline process. Others would constrain northern development, they said. "The panel has reconsidered all of the recommendations that the governments are proposing to reject on the ground that they were 'outside the scope of the JRP's mandate' and in each case disagrees with the governments' conclusions in this regard," Hornal wrote in the letter dated Oct. 4. "The panel sees no reason to withdraw or modify any of these recommendations." The dispute is part of the final stages of the project's review process, and is holding up the National Energy Board's decision. It had been expected last month and is now targeted for late November or early December.
Posted 15 October 2010; 2:25:49 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 12 October 2010) -- Murmansk Governor Dmitri Dmitriyenko has signed agreements on the development of a ten billion RUB LNG terminal, as well as a new oil and gas supply base, in the Kola Bay. The two agreements were among a total of 21 investment agreements signed by regional authorities during the recent Murmansk Economic Forum. The agreements have a total value of 121 billion RUB, MBnews.ru reports. The agreements, most of them linked with the development of the Shtokman gas field and the development of local infrastructure, confirm the current major investment interest in Murmansk. Alone the agreement signed by the governor and the company BarentsGaz has a frame of ten billion RUB. According to a press release from the regional government, the BarentsGaz company is to develop an investment project on the construction of a base or reloading terminal for storage, reprocessing and shipments of LNG. The capacity of the terminal is to be three million tons, Oilru.com reports. It is to be located on the eastern shore of the Kola Bay, only about ten km from the City of Murmansk. Among the other deals signed is an agreement with the United Shipbuilding Corporation on the construction of a new supply base. The new base is to facilitate supplies to hydrocarbon projects on the Arctic shelf. It will engage in the bunkering of ships, loading of goods, storage, repair operations and provision of necessary support for drilling missions on the shelf, Portnews.ru reports.
Posted 13 October 2010; 10:46:15 PM. Permalink
(Doug Saunders, Globe and Mail, 2 October 2010) -- Nuuk, Greenland - On a sunny day, the capital of Greenland is a place of elegant beauty, its brightly painted clapboard houses scattered along the boreal shoreline, rising to a broad boulevard of chic Scandinavian buildings, shops and apartments – as if a prosperous maritime Inuit settlement had been redesigned by Ikea. Such sunny days have lately become increasingly common in Nuuk, whose 15,000 people represent a quarter of Greenland’s population, most of the rest scattered in tiny villages along a vast, roadless shoreline that encircles the ice sheet covering most of this semi-independent country. That sheet, three kilometres thick at its centre, is melting fast, as are the ice fields that surround Greenland’s north. To the rest of the world, that melting appears to be the greatest problem of our century, begetting rising ocean levels, weather volatility, reduced growing seasons and fears of famine in the central and southern portions of the globe. But to the mainly Inuit people of Greenland, global warming is a gift from the heavens, and not just for the obvious reason. These children of hunters and fishermen have, for much of the past century, lived a version of the humiliating life of dependence that has befallen most of the ex-nomadic peoples of the world, struggling to hold on to traditions while living in enforced and subsidized marginality. The retreating ice is salvation: It opens fields of treasure and promises to end that humiliation. Among the many troubled ex-nomads of the world, the Inuit of Greenland have the atmosphere on their side.
Posted 3 October 2010; 3:55:35 PM. Permalink
(Svalbard Posten via IM Translation, 26 September 2010) -- The relationship between Esso Norway, which owns the tank facility in Ny-Ålesund, Kings Bay as the owner of the site has gone from bad to worse over the past year. The conflict between Esso Norway and Kings Bay is increasing. The oil company resort to falsehood to push Kings Bay further. Kings Bay State Company, which owns and operates Ny-Ålesund, has long been in dispute with Esso Norway over the tank facility in Ny-Ålesund. The starting point is an order from the Climate and Pollution Directorate (Klif) to Esso Norway to secure emissions at its tank facility in Ny-Ålesund. Esso Norway has been unwilling and has proposed to the Kings Bay that it takes over the entire tank facility, with NOK 500,000 in compensation. Kings Bay Chairman Knut Ore believes the old and worn-out plant would become a great expense, and require 3.5 million NOK for taking over the responsibility. The case has wandered back and forth between the two companies, without any solution being reached. Esso Norway has a 30 October deadline to carry out the order from Klif. So far nothing has happened, and nothing suggests that something will happen before the time limit expires in five weeks. Esso Norway has threatened to remove the entire plant if Kings Bay does not bend and take over. In this case, all activities in Ny-Ålesund will stop when there no longer will be fuel for the power station. While negotiations have been going on, Kings Bay has requested conditions for the supply of diesel fuel before winter begins. Esso Norway requires 850,000 NOK in shipping their own vessel to take the trip north with 500,000 litres of diesel. In an email to Kings Bay Svein H. Bjørnestad, head of legal department of Esso Norway, acknowledges the the urgency of the order and says that he finds it necessary to concretize this in order to avoid further misunderstandings. He writes: "Local authorities closed the waters around Svalbard 31 October due to ice conditions. Esso's vessel Bergen Faith has limited opportunities to go in these waters after 1 October, when they are completely dependent on acceptable weather conditions." Knut Ore respond to the claim that the waters close 31 October, and says that this is something Esso Norway is claiming to push Kings Bay further.
Posted 26 September 2010; 5:46:53 PM. Permalink
(ENS, 2 September 2010) -- BAFFIN BAY, Greenland - Four Greenpeace activists who climbed a Cairn Energy oil rig in Greenland waters were arrested this morning and are now being held in police custody in Greenland. The activists first scaled the oil rig Stena Don on Tuesday. They attached hanging platforms to the underside of the rig where they camped out in tents with self-heating meals until last night. Freezing gale-force winds forced the climbers and Greenpeace campaigners on the ship Esperanza anchored one kilometer from the rig to decide to end the occupation. It took the Greenpeacers four hours of climbing in bitter winds to scale the rig from their hanging platforms up onto the platform gantry, where police were waiting for them. They were taken into custody and flown off the oil rig by helicopter at 2 am. Before ending the occupation, climber Sim McKenna of the United States, said on his satellite phone, "We stopped this rig drilling for oil for two days, but in the end the Arctic weather beat us. Last night was freezing and now the sea below us is churning and the wind is roaring. It's time to come down, but we're proud we slowed the mad rush for Arctic oil, if only for a couple of days."
Posted 5 September 2010; 3:57:41 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 20 August 2010) -- The federal government will spend nearly $22 million for research in the Beaufort Sea that could help in the debate over offshore oil and gas drilling there. Yukon Conservative Senator Daniel Lang announced a total of $21.8 million over five years for research under the Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment (BREA), which will sponsor environmental and socio-economic research "that will gather new information vital to the future management of the Beaufort Sea," according to a release. Speaking Friday in Inuvik, N.W.T., Lang said the research will help regulators like the National Energy Board make decisions with regard to oil and gas exploration and development in the ocean. The debate over offshore drilling activity in the Beaufort Sea has heated up in recent months, as the large-scale oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico raised concerns about whether such work can be done safely and in an environmentally sensitive way in Canada's Arctic waters. In the wake of the Gulf spill, the National Energy Board has launched a broad review of Arctic drilling safety regulations.
Posted 27 August 2010; 10:48:37 PM. Permalink
(Ed Crooks/Financial Times, 7 July 2010) -- A British independent oil company has started drilling an exploration well in the Arctic waters between Greenland and Canada, having won approvals from the Greenland authorities in spite of the concerns raised by BP’s huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Industry experts and environmentalists say the consequences of a spill in the Arctic could be much more serious than the impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the gulf. Yet the lure of the potentially vast resources of the region is so strong that companies and governments are pushing ahead with exploration programmes, albeit with heightened levels of attention to safety and scrutiny from regulators. Cairn Energy, a London-listed, Edinburgh based oil company that had spectacular success finding oil onshore in north-west India, is placing its next big bet off the coast of Greenland, near the Davis Strait on the maritime border with Canada. It plans to drill four wells off Greenland in the three-month drilling season this summer, at a cost of about $100m each. Canada’s National Energy Board has imposed a moratorium on issuing permits for drilling in the Arctic seas while it reviews safety procedures, as has the US administration. Those bans will mean that Royal Dutch Shell, which had hoped to drill explorations wells off the north coast of Alaska this summer, will miss drilling season for another year. Greenland, however, decided last month to award Cairn permits to drill its first two wells, and is expected to agree permits for the second two. Last week, Cairn began drilling its first well.
Posted 8 July 2010; 8:48:12 PM. Permalink
(Steven Thomma/McClatchy Newspapers via Anchorage Daily News, 26 May 2010) -- WASHINGTON - The Obama administration Thursday will suspend planned exploratory oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska until at least 2011, a casualty of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.The suspension will be part of a report that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will give to President Barack Obama, who's likely to address the suspension as well as other proposals growing out of Salazar's report, at a White House news conference Thursday. The move will stop Shell from drilling five wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off northern Alaska weeks before it had hoped to start work, an administration official told McClatchy. The move will stop for now a controversial expansion of oil drilling in a part of the world that could hold vast stores of oil and natural gas, but which environmentalists warn would come at great risk. Despite a late appeal from Shell that it would employ new safety measures in the wake of the gulf spill, Salazar was unconvinced that the exploratory drilling even in the much shallower waters of the Arctic would be safe. "He is suspending proposed exploratory drilling in the Arctic," an administration official said on condition of anonymity to talk before Salazar's report is officially released Thursday. "He will not consider applications for permits to drill in the Arctic until 2011 because of the need for further information-gathering, evaluation of proposed drilling technology, and evaluation of oil-spill response capabilities for Arctic waters."
Posted 26 May 2010; 10:02:13 PM. Permalink
(Shannon Montgomery/Canadian Press via Metro News Halifax, 20 May 2010) -- CALGARY - Environment Minister Jim Prentice says he will demand the highest environmental standards be followed as Greenland explores offshore oil drilling just outside of Canada's territorial waters. Prentice said he'll make Canada's position very clear at a meeting of Arctic countries next month. "We certainly want to be sure that the highest possible environmental standards are being followed and we intend to make our views known," he said at an event in Calgary. "Obviously drilling offshore wells in the Arctic environment, particularly deep wells, is something that we are concerned about. Greenland recently accepted bids to drill in Baffin Bay near the mouth of Lancaster Sound, which is close to where Canada hopes to establish a marine conservation area. The territory hopes to drill along thousands of kilometres of the maritime border it shares with Canada starting this summer.
Posted 23 May 2010; 9:53:27 AM. Permalink
(Alexandre Deslongchamps/Blomberg Businessweek, 12 May 2010) -- Canadian national and provincial energy regulators will review the safety requirements for offshore drilling projects in a bid to prevent an oil spill similar to the one in the Gulf of Mexico. The Calgary-based National Energy Board will review procedures for Arctic drilling, while Canada’s easternmost province of Newfoundland said today it appointed Mark Turner, former chief operating officer of North Atlantic Pipeline Partners and Newfoundland LNG Ltd., to probe its ability to prevent and respond to a spill. While Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Canada’s rules are safe, the opposition Liberal Party said yesterday it wants to conduct a review of offshore drilling and that a moratorium could be necessary if current rules aren’t stringent enough. “We need to learn from what happened in the Gulf,” Gaetan Caron, the regulator’s chair, said in a statement released yesterday. “The information taken from this unfortunate situation will enhance our safety and environmental oversight.” The National Energy Board will announce the details of the review in the “near future,” according to the statement. It takes the place of a separate review the Board had begun into the need for Arctic operators to be able to drill relief wells during the same season. The watchdog said there is currently no offshore drilling in the Arctic and it hasn’t received any applications for such a project.
Posted 13 May 2010; 4:47:27 PM. Permalink
(William Yardley, 5 May 2010) -- CORDOVA, Alaska - As the oil spill spreads ominously in the Gulf of Mexico, its impact uncertain, communities here beside Prince William Sound are still confronting the consequences of March 24, 1989, the day of the wreck of the Exxon Valdez. The tanker Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil, staining 1,500 miles of coastline, killing hundreds of thousands of seabirds, otters, seals and whales, and devastating local communities. The spill stopped after just a few days. Recovery may not have an end date. Fishing here is far from what it was. Suicides and bankruptcies and bitterness surged. Many people left even as a few became “spillionaires,” getting paid to clean up. A new industry took hold: environmental groups, scientific organizations, experts in the psychological trauma of oil spills. A network of fishermen is now trained and paid by the oil industry to respond if another disaster strikes. Lawyers, fishermen and environmentalists in the gulf are now calling, looking for guidance in areas like how to harness political anger over the spill and the most effective ecological triage. National news crews are chartering planes to nearby islands to see how oil still coats rocks just below the surface all these years later. Fishermen recount once again their complicated journeys from the spill to the payments they received just last year from a punitive damages judgment of about $500 million against Exxon in 1994. People here say they want to move on.
Posted 10 May 2010; 11:48:07 PM. Permalink
(Darrell Delamaide for OilPrice.com via OilGuy/OpEdNews.com, 9 May 2010) -- While the oil spill from a sunken drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico threatens to become an environmental disaster, plans are proceeding for opening up new drilling territories in the iceberg-infested waters off Greenland. The island, an autonomous territory under Danish sovereignty, this week conducted an auction for 14 blocks in Baffin Bay, off the northwest coast of Greenland near Canadian territorial waters. Results will be announced in August. In the meantime, Cairn Energy will this summer begin drilling off DiskoIsland in Baffin Bay on the basis of leases awarded in earlier auctions. Exxon Mobil and Chevron also hold existing leases, while Royal Dutch Shell and Norway's Statoil were among the bidders in this week's auctions. The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that some 50 billion barrels of oil may be found offshore Greenland, where ice covers four-fifths of the surface territory for a good part of the year. Some in Greenland, which has a population of only 57,000, hope that oil will be the ticket to independence from Denmark, which has controlled the island since the 18th century. The portion of the Labrador Current flowing through Davis Strait off western Greenland is known as "iceberg alley" because huge chunks of ice that calve from the northern glaciers make their way into the northern Atlantic along this route. Ironically, global warming, which has melted some of the Arctic glaciers, has made offshore drilling in these waters more feasible. However, the Gulf oil spill is raising concerns in Canada about the risks posed in drilling so near the Canadian coastline. Cairn Energy's only offshore drilling experience has been in the much warmer Indian Ocean, and no one has had to cope with an oil spill in Arctic waters. Officials from eight Arctic countries, including Canada, are to meet in Greenland next month to discuss possible environmental risks of oil exploration and production in the region. Last fall, seven companies with drilling licenses, including Cairn, formed the Greenland Oil Industry Association to exchange expertise and liaise with the government on environmental and other issues. Analysts estimate that an oil price of at least $50 a barrel is necessary to make Arctic offshore drilling worthwhile. Prices have hovered around $80 a barrel in recent months.
Posted 9 May 2010; 10:44:28 AM. Permalink
(Bob Weber/The Canadian Press via Brandon Sun, 5 May 2010) -- Environmentalists warn that Ottawa must be vigilant as Greenland welcomes offshore oil drilling in the Eastern Arctic immediately adjacent to Canada's territorial waters. Earlier this week, Greenland accepted bids to drill in Baffin Bay near the mouth of Lancaster Sound, where Canada hopes to establish a marine conservation area. The vast, thinly populated territory — which controls its own resources as part of a deal with Denmark — hopes to drill along thousands of kilometres of the maritime border it shares with Canada. That work is expected to begin this summer. Canada has accepted an invitation to meet with Denmark and the other six members of the Arctic Council this June in Ilullissat, Greenland. The meeting, which is to focus on protecting the Arctic environment, will include discussions on offshore oil drilling. "It will be part of it," said Danish embassy spokesman Jakob Henningsen. "They will be discussing offshore oil and gas." A spokeswoman from Canada's Foreign Affairs Department confirmed Canada's participation. "Canada will participate at a meeting on the Arctic environment," said Ambra Dickie in an email. She would reveal no other details. In addition to the eight Arctic Council members, representatives from northern aboriginal groups will also be present, Henningsen said The icy waters between Greenland and Canada are considered to hold one of the great prizes of Arctic resource development. The U.S. Geological Survey ranks the West Greenland-East Canada Basin seventh out of 25 Arctic regions with energy potential. It is estimated to hold the equivalent of more than 17 billion barrels of oil, with the chance of finding oil or gas in the area anywhere from one in three to virtually 100 per cent.
Posted 9 May 2010; 10:26:22 AM. Permalink
(Elizabeth Bluemink/Anchorage Daily News, 2 May 2010) — The oil gushing from a Gulf of Mexico oil well has the potential to touch Alaska in many ways. Alaska is next in line, nationally, for offshore oil development in federal waters — Shell Oil hopes to drill exploration wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas this summer, opening a controversial new frontier for the state's oil industry. Investors' jitters over future offshore oil production could boost Alaska oil prices — it happened Thursday, when the price for Alaska crude jumped by $2.70 to $83.97. National outrage could dim the prospects of an offshore oil boom in Alaska's Arctic waters, which federal scientists say could hold some of the biggest oil and gas deposits in the country. Or, the Gulf disaster could have the less-dramatic effect of prompting new state or federal rules for preventing disasters at oil rigs and offshore wells, including the ones in Alaska. State oil and gas regulators have no say over oil and gas projects in federal waters, but they said Friday they are closely watching the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and sinking to find out what went wrong. That's because they regulate offshore development in Cook Inlet and in state waters off the North Slope, home to a growing number of oil fields. And also because they are worried that federal officials may overreact, said Kevin Banks, state Oil and Gas Division director. "We are concerned because of the potential for a real backlash and people seeking to shut (offshore drilling) down," he said. Offshore oil development isn't the only part of Alaska's oil industry that could be affected by the Gulf spill. Major industry catastrophes, such as the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, can lead to costly, far-reaching changes that have nothing to do with pumping oil from federal waters. Already some environmental groups said they plan to use the Gulf spill in their campaign to permanently close off oil-company access to the promising coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Posted 3 May 2010; 3:59:42 PM. Permalink
(UPI, 3 May 2010) -- SHANGHAI - Russia is interested in joining Chinese developers to exploit oil and gas reserves locked in the Russian section of the Arctic, regional officials said. Dmitry Kobylkin, the governor of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous region in the Russian Arctic, expressed interest in a Chinese partnership in oil and gas development during the World Expo 2010 Exhibition in Shanghai. He said he was ready to offer partners in China a "mutually advantageous and constructive cooperation" in the regional natural resources sector, Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency reports. The Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous region accounts for more than 90 percent of the natural gas production and around 12 percent of the oil production in Russia. "We are ready to act as intermediaries between an investor country and the oil and gas sector and create a good investment climate," said Kobylkin. The World Wide Fund for Nature, an environmental advocacy group, said the oil spill in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico raises alarm about the possibility of exploring the Arctic for oil and gas. The WWF said it was renewing its call for a moratorium on oil and gas development in the Arctic until environmental risks are better understood.
Posted 3 May 2010; 12:19:26 PM. Permalink
(CTV, 30 April 2010) -- As the world watches the spreading oil-spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, plans to drill in Greenland's iceberg-choked ocean are raising concerns about possible accidents poisoning adjacent Canadian waters. "It seemed to me that (Environment Minister Jim Prentice) was taken by surprise by this," federal NDP Arctic critic Dennis Bevington said Friday after question period in Ottawa. "There's no real plan for dealing with oil spills in the Arctic -- no real ability, no real plan." Pending final approvals, Scottish oil company Cairn Energy plans to drill four wells this summer in offshore leases west of Greenland's Disko Island -- right next to the international boundary with Canada. The company's previous offshore experience has been in the Indian Ocean, but spokesman David Nisbet said Cairn would take all possible precautions in its first venture into the Arctic. Two drill ships would be in the area, leaving one available to bore a relief well to help staunch any blowouts. Nisbet also said the company would draw on Canadian experience in dealing with icebergs in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador, where powerful tugboats are able to shift the floating, frozen mountains away from rigs. "We're using some of the very best available contractors," he said. "We'll have nine vessels in this area." Nisbet added that the waters where Cairn would drill are only about one-third as deep as the well now staining the Louisiana coast. The Davis Strait is known as "iceberg alley," through which massive mountains of snow and ice that break off Greenland's glaciers float on their way to the North Atlantic. But Nisbet downplayed the risk. He said a survey last summer found a total of 12 icebergs in both of Cairn's leases, which cover thousands of square kilometres. "We're conscious of our responsibility."
Posted 2 May 2010; 10:52:40 PM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 27 April 2010) -- In a recently published study, the Norwegian Coastal Administration concludes that the port of Kirkenes is the best choice in eastern Finnmark for base operations for the petroleum industry. The study has evaluated the ports of eastern Finnmark as base ports for offshore operations in the Barents Sea. Important factors which have been evaluated are harbor debt, harbor infrastructure, areas at disposal, road and airport facilities and relevant industry in the area. The study concludes that Kirkenes is the port best suited for such operations in eastern Finnmark. The harbor dept is 30 meters in general, there are large areas which can be used for service purposes and the town has both good airport connections and road infrastructure. "Among the ports studied in this report, only Kirkenes fulfill the demands which are set for a future oil base in eastern Finnmark," the conclusion states. Advisor of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, Oddgeir Danielsen, says that this report only underlines what has been known by most people working with development of the oil and gas industry in the eastern part of the Barents Sea. "Only Kirkenes has the harbor infrastructure needed for service operations for the petroleum industry. At the same time the location is maybe even more advantageous for Kirkenes. It is the harbor located closest to Russia, the main airport of eastern Finnmark is located here and the road connections to Russia and to the south are also in the benefit of Kirkenes," says Danielsen. Another important factor which gives Kirkenes an advantage compared to other ports, is the scope of the existing local industry. Kirkenes has one out of few ship yards in northern Norway, and can thus provide key competence for service work to the petroleum industry. In addition there is the wide range of mechanical competence within the Sydvaranger mine company, which adds to the industrial capability of the Kirkenes community, says Danielsen.
Posted 27 April 2010; 4:18:50 PM. Permalink
(Canwest News Service via The Vancouver Sun, 31 March 2010) — The much-anticipated but controversial transformation of the Arctic Ocean into a new global treasure house of oil and gas is a step closer with the U.S. government moving Wednesday to open that country's offshore areas — including the Beaufort Sea, subject of a boundary dispute with Canada — to more intensive petroleum development. U.S. President Barack Obama has announced plans to end a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in almost all U.S. coastal waters, kick-starting what's expected to be a major push to exploit extensive undersea deposits north of Alaska — part of a total circumpolar resource that geologists say holds as much as one-quarter of the planet's untapped hydrocarbon reserves.
Posted 4 April 2010; 6:59:33 PM. Permalink
(Arctic Economics, 17 March 2010) -- There's a lot of natural gas in the Arctic: maybe 30% of the world's undiscovered natural gas resources. But the value of those resources, and the likelihood of development, depends on the availability of substitutes. Unfortunately for Arctic jurisdictions hoping to cash in on their resources, there's been a big increase in the availability of substitutes recently. ... New technologies have made it possible to access tremendous volumes of natural gas from shale .... Prices have dropped and Arctic development has slowed. Gazprom's Shtokman field is in trouble....
Posted 21 March 2010; 5:44:50 PM. Permalink
(True North Gems Apartheid press release via PRWeb, 5 March 2010) -- Nuuk, Greenland - Niels Madsen, a small scale mining activist and one of the founders of
the 16th August Union, a Greenlandic association of small scale miners,
has issued a call to the international community to block the Greenland
Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum’s (BMP) continuing attempt to
disenfranchise Greenlanders from their mineral resources. The BMP has recently revoked communal ownership of the land and its
resources, which were formerly guaranteed under Article 32 of the
Greenlandic Constitution. On March 8th, Greenland’s Manager of the BMP,
Jorn Skov Nielsen will present in Toronto to the Prospectors and
Developers Association of Canada http://www.pdac.ca/ with the clear aim of offering
Greenland’s vast mineral wealth to large-scale mining companies. “Any company that collaborates with the BMP is not only in violation of the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights,” said Madsen, “they are also supporting what has clearly become an apartheid system.” True North Gems, Inc., (TNG), a junior Canadian mining company prospecting for ruby on Greenland since 2004 was recently granted rights to an enormous exploration license near the village of Fiskenaesset. On Tuesday 9 March 2010, TNG is scheduled to give a 20 minute presentation to the Canadian diamond community. Until the documentation of valuable gem deposits in Greenland, Inuits were allowed to gather, polish and sell gem material. Once exceptionally valuable ruby was documented by TNG, the BMP issued completely new mining laws. “Once an applications is filed to mine, the BMP delays or outright refuses to issue licenses,” said Madsen. “We also want to benefit from the ruby we already collected and legally own and pay fair taxes, but at present that is not possible.” “Even though True North Gems is very unpopular in our country, we respect large scale mining. But we cannot tolerate being thrown out of the many big exploration areas which will soon be covering the entire land which is our commons,” said Madsen, who gathered four thousand signatures in support of Inuit small scale mining rights for ruby on Greenland. ... “The BMP is guilty of marginalizing the Inuit from their own wealth and inheritance,” said Valerio. “Not only do their new small-scale mining laws discredit the BMP in the eyes of the international gemstone community, they also humiliate and discriminate against very people they claim to represent.” [See the protest web site.]
Posted 8 March 2010; 1:55:00 PM. Permalink
(Randy Boswell/Canwest News Service, 4 March 2010) -- A controversial proposal to open a coal mine on Ellesmere Island — potentially one of the planet's most northerly industrial operations — has hit a major roadblock after a Nunavut review agency ruled that "the high likelihood of immitigable impacts" to wildlife and globally-significant fossil beds in the region demand that the project be "modified or abandoned" by its B.C.-based developer. The thumbs-down recommendation from the Nunavut Impact Review Board, filed Feb. 22 with the federal government, was hailed as a victory of fossil science over fossil fuel by the U.S.-based Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, which had described the proposed Weststar Resources Corp., coal project as a threat to "some of the most significant sites in the world" for fossil researchers. The board's decision leaves the project's fate in the hands of the federal government and could force the company to radically redesign its development plans. "The news couldn't be better," society president Blaire Van Valkenburgh said in a statement sent Thursday to Canwest News Service. "This is the strongest possible outcome in our favour." In its report, submitted to Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl, the review board cited "unacceptable potential adverse impacts" — including possible disruption of Inuit hunting activities — in rejecting the proposed mine. Despite a submission from Environment Canada, backing Weststar's plan — described by the federal ministry as "a type where the potential adverse effects are highly predictable and can be mitigated with known technology" — the NIRB concluded there was too great a risk of harm to Peary caribou, other "sensitive wildlife" and "significant paleontological resources."
Posted 7 March 2010; 11:21:54 AM. Permalink
(ITAR-TASS, 28 February 2010) -- ST. PETERSBURG - The Mikhail Ulyanov Arctic supertanker built at the Admiralty Shipyards to Sovcomflot’s order has been supplied to the Russian commercial fleet. The tanker goes on its first voyage on Sunday. It will carry several tens of thousands of petroleum products from the Primorsk seaport in the Leningrad region to West European terminals. The tanker has the deadweight of 70,000 tonnes, the length of 257 meters and the width of 34 meters, Admiralty Shipyards General Director Vladimir Alexandrov told Itar-Tass. The construction of similar high-tech tankers will continue, in particular, for developers of circumpolar shelf deposits. The Admiralty Shipyards has orders for the next two or three years within the framework of the Russian shipbuilding program for the period until 2020. The Kirill Lavrov supertanker will be supplied to Sovcomflot this year. The tanker was launched on December 18, 2009. An Antarctic research vessel and the Igor Belousov ship for rescuing submarines in distress will be ready in 2011.
Posted 28 February 2010; 10:48:56 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 19 February 2010) -- A Russian government service is to evaluate a report on the exploration of the shelf west of the Yamal Peninsula. The Russian Service on Ecological, Technological and Nuclear control is to conduct a state evaluation of materials on the mapping of the waters west of the Yamal Peninsula, the government body informs on its website. The waters outside Yamal are along with the Kara Sea believed to contain major amounts of hydrocarbons, and first of all natural gas. Gazprom is currently in the process of developing land-based fields in the Yamal Peninsula. Those fields, among them the huge Bovanenkovo field, could pave the way also for offshore developments. It is Gazprom which has the licenses to the fields in the area. The Ministry of Natural Resources will, in the course of February, publish a report on the development of the Russian shelf, RIA Novosti reports.
Posted 21 February 2010; 1:03:11 PM. Permalink
(Dmitry Zhdannikov/Globe and Mail, 5 February 2010) -- Moscow - Russia has delayed the start of its giant Arctic Shtokman gas field by three years to 2016 after a dip in European demand and a surge in North American shale gas output dampened its export prospects. Russian gas export monopoly OAO Gazprom said in a statement on Friday it had agreed with partners Total SA and Statoil ASA to delay pipeline gas production from Shtokman from 2013 to 2016. Liquefied natural gas output will begin in 2017 instead of the earlier planned 2014. The decision was made due to “changes in the market situation and particularly in the LNG market“. Shtokman, one of the world's largest gas fields, in the stormy Barents Sea, is expected to require $15-billion (U.S.) of investment in its first phase. Gazprom saw a slump in exports last year amid a global economic slowdown and due to a surge in unconventional gas supplies, such as gas extracted from shale, in the United States.
Posted 5 February 2010; 11:41:29 PM. Permalink
(Rolleiv Solholm/NRK via The Norway Post, 24 January 2010) -- An oil spill in the far North will do more damage to the environment than a spill further south. The reason is that the eco-systems in the North are more vulnerable, a new scientific report shows. The report is made by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) for the Directorate for Nature Management (DN), and is part of the background material to be used when the Government will be discussing the administration plan for the waters around Lofoten and in the Barents Sea. The Lofoten-Barents waters contain some of the world's largest fish stocks, rare coral reefs and other marine life, as well as some of the largest collections of sea birds. The new report confirms much of what has been previous information. "Today's knowledge tells us that it would not be advisable to open up for oil drilling off the coast of Lofoten and Vesterålen," says Lars Haltbrekken, leader of Friends of the Earth Norway (Norges Naturvernforbund).
Posted 24 January 2010; 10:55:10 AM. Permalink
(Wojciech Moskwa/Reuters, 14 January 2010) -- OSLO - An industry-backed survey published on Thursday shows most Norwegians favor an impact study that could pave the way to open a pristine, fish-rich Arctic area to oil activities and prolong Norway's energy boom. The oil industry says the waters near the Lofoten and Vesteraalen islands in the Arctic now have the most prospects off Norway and must be tapped to prolong the North Sea state's oil bonanza as output from mature oilfields declines. Environmentalists say that any spill in the unspoiled region would be disastrous for its diverse eco-system, which includes unique cold water reefs, pods of sperm whales and killer whales, some of the largest seabird colonies in Europe as well as being the spawning grounds of the largest cod stock in the world. A number of opinion polls over past months suggest that Norwegians are split nearly down the middle on Arctic drilling and the issue was a major theme in last year's general election. The survey by pollster Synovate, carried out for the oil industry lobby group OLF, shows that seven out of 10 Norwegians want the authorities to conduct an impact study of how oil and gas exploration would affect the Lofoten region. "For us, this is a confirmation of our position that the impact assessment is reasonable," OLF chief Gro Braekken said in a statement publishing the results of the survey. Two small parties in the government — the Socialist Left and the Center Party — are against drilling, but the main Labour Party has not yet made up its mind.
Posted 17 January 2010; 12:49:40 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 January 2010) -- The former Pine Point zinc and lead mine in the Northwest Territories may be brought back to life after Tamerlane Ventures Inc. starts exploratory drilling at the site next month. The company wants to look for a 50-million-tonne unmined deposit near the former mine site, based on documentation that dates back to when the original Pine Point mine existed. Tamerlane officials say they already know there is an eight-million-tonne deposit at the site, but they will now spend $300,000 to verify the larger deposit. "We know as much about it as we can without going underground to mine it," Ross Burns, the Tamerlane president and CEO, told CBC News. "We're very, very far advanced. "Tamerlane's probably one of the very few companies that has … a reserve that's got all its permits, it's got its feasibility study, it's got great infrastructure, which was left from the previous mining there." The original Pine Point mine, on the south shore of Great Slave Lake between Hay River and Fort Resolution, N.W.T., was run by Cominco Ltd. from 1964 until 1987, when it closed because of rising costs. Hay River Mayor Kelly Schofield said that he hopes Tamerlane's efforts to revive Pine Point will eventually create jobs for residents.
Posted 13 January 2010; 9:27:37 PM. Permalink
(Marilyn Heiman/McClatchy Newspapers via Juneau Empire, 8 January 2010) -- Wedged between Alaska and Siberia, the Chukchi Sea is one of the most productive ocean ecosystems in the world. Its vast shallow sea floor and ice cover provide rich habitat for many species, including walrus, whales, polar bears and millions of seabirds. In winter, the Chukchi is a foreboding place, dominated by moving packs of sea ice, extreme storms, sub-zero temperatures and darkness. Even the short Arctic summer brings temperatures in the 40s, gale-force winds, week-long storms and heavy blankets of fog nearly one-third of the time. Despite such challenges, the Obama administration recently gave the green light for industry to drill exploratory oil and gas wells in the Chukchi and neighboring Beaufort Sea next summer. Trying to extract these resources poses huge risks. The ever-present danger of oil spills is one of the biggest concerns. People make mistakes, equipment fails. Remote locations, harsh conditions and technological limitations exacerbate the risks of offshore drilling in the U.S. Arctic. One week in December, bad weather stymied the cleanup of two separate land-based spills on Alaska's North Slope. An oil rig blowout in the relatively warm, calm waters of the Timor Sea off Australia's north coast several months ago spewed oil for ten weeks until the company finally capped it. An incident like that in the Chukchi or Beaufort seas would be disastrous. If the industry cannot adequately respond to spills on land or in warm waters, the public has little assurance it can cope with broken ice, darkness and high winds. ... Before approving new lease sales and new drilling, the federal government must look hard at the deficiencies in oil spill response capabilities in the U.S. Arctic Ocean. Thus far, only incomplete plans have been submitted. What is needed instead is a transparent, independent, peer-reviewed oil-spill risk assessment. The nation must have clear answers — and understand what is at stake before it risks serious harm.
Posted 10 January 2010; 11:53:58 AM. Permalink
(Kirsten Korosec/BNET, 8 January 2010) -- ExxonMobil could be ramping up its Arctic exploration intentions with reported plans to commission a rig able to withstand the brutal and ice-covered regions such as offshore Greenland and Alaska. The biggest U.S. oil company is looking to sign a contract for a Transocean rig capable of drilling in Arctic waters and which is estimated to cost up to $1 billion to build, Reuters reported. Transocean CEO Bob Long said in September his company could announce a new arctic-class rig with a contract by the end of 2009. The announcement has yet to occur, but some have speculated Exxon was tied up with its acquisition of independent unconventional natural gas producer XTO Energy. Exxon has long been interested in the Arctic and has an increased its acreage in the Beaufort Sea and is in different stages of planning and assessment in areas offshore West Greenland, eastern Canada and Newfoundland. And why not? Offshore drilling in the Arctic has become more attractive and accessible as the annual summer ice thaw increases, leaving more open water. In 2008, the United States Geological Survey determined the estimated undiscovered technically recoverable conventional oil and natural gas resources was about 412 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
Posted 9 January 2010; 10:34:01 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 7 January 2010) -- The National Energy Board (NEB) will hold a final round of hearings in mid-April on the proposed Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline in the Northwest Territories. The energy board, an independent federal agency that regulates parts of Canada's energy industry, announced Wednesday that it's ready to hear final arguments on the pipeline proposal. The NEB will then have to decide whether to approve the project, currently estimated to cost $16.2 billion to build. That decision is expected to be made this fall. Hearings will take place from April 12 to 17 in Yellowknife, then continue in Inuvik, N.W.T., from April 20 to 24, the board stated in a release. The National Energy Board began hearing evidence in January 2006 on the proposal by a consortium of companies — led by Calgary-based Imperial Oil — to build a 1,200-kilometre pipeline from the N.W.T.'s Mackenzie Delta, through Inuvik and down the Mackenzie Valley to northern Alberta. The consortium also includes ExxonMobil Corp., ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and the Aboriginal Pipeline Group.
Posted 7 January 2010; 10:03:40 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 6 January 2010) -- An upcoming research expedition to an Arctic island could help kickstart a new wave of oil and gas exploration in Canada's Far North. The research team, led by Keith Dewing of the Geological Survey of Canada, will travel to Ellef Ringnes Island next summer to collect data from areas where petroleum resources were first discovered nearly half a century ago. "There was exploration done up there by a group of companies called PanArctic Oils back in the 1960s, 1970s, and that exploration ended in the 1980s," Dewing, a research scientist based in Calgary, told CBC News. "It was very successful; they found all sorts of resources up there back in the old days. But of course, none of it was really economic. They couldn't make money producing what they found because of the location." Dewing said technologies have changed since then, and his team hopes to produce a detailed geological map that could give industry more information about Ellef Ringnes Island. "It's amazing what you can do now, compared to 20 years ago, so what we want to do is go in and bring the science up to date," he said. The expedition to Ellef Ringnes Island is part of a federal government program aimed at learning more about petroleum resources in Canada's Far North. "It's quite generously funded. There's quite a bit of money," Dewing said.
Posted 6 January 2010; 11:45:07 PM. Permalink
(Markus Ermisch/QMI Agency, 2 January 2010) -- Canada's government may be well advised to help fund a proposed pipeline to ship natural gas from the Arctic into Alberta, says a financial analyst. In fact, argues RBC Capital Markets analyst Robert Kwan, only federal financial assistance may ensure the survival of the ambitious project. A long-awaited report on the Mackenzie natural gas pipeline says the multibillion-dollar project could benefit Canada's North economically, especially during the construction phase of the 1,200-km pipeline. And that, Kwan says, could persuade Ottawa to help fund the project that by 2015 could ship 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas from the Mackenzie River delta to northern Alberta. "The report's findings on the benefits to the North could drive the government to provide greater financial support," he said in a research note the day after the government-appointed joint review panel released its report. "The government may need to take a step back and evaluate its financial support for the project in its entirety, including the benefit for northern communities and Canada as a whole, which could drive increased government support for the project with respect to related infrastructure, social programs and training." The project's corporate backers, including Imperial Oil, Shell Canada and Exxon Mobil, are still negotiating with Ottawa over a financial assistance package for the $16-billion pipeline. Environment Minister Jim Prentice had said one year ago that the federal offer would include cash for infrastructure, such as road and airstrips, as well as pre-construction expenses. Prentice could not be reached to comment on the status of the negotiations. The Mackenzie project will continue its way through the federal regulatory process at least until September this year, at which time the National Energy Board expects to deliver its recommendation to the federal government.
Posted 3 January 2010; 11:02:02 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 1 January 2010) -- People in the Northwest Territories are still sifting through the Joint Review Panel's recommendations for the Mackenzie Valley gas project. But a pattern is emerging: there's a tremendous amount of work to do before the project goes ahead if all the panel's 176 conditions are followed. The proposed $16.2-billion natural gas pipeline moved closer to reality Wednesday after winning approval from the panel. Imperial Oil and its partners are now assessing what the panel's conditions mean. "All of those have implications for the potential cost of the project," said company spokesman Pius Rolheiser. He said the proponents plan to offer comments to the National Energy Board within the next three weeks. "The proponents are pleased that the Joint Review Panel has concluded that with appropriate measures to mitigate potential impacts, that the Mackenzie Project is in the public interest, and should be allowed to move forward," he said.
Posted 1 January 2010; 11:38:22 AM. Permalink
(Jeffrey Jones/Reuters, 30 December 2009) -- CALGARY, Alberta - The C$16.2 billion ($15.4 billion) Mackenzie pipeline in Canada's Arctic should be allowed to proceed, provided 176 recommendations aimed at securing socioeconomic benefits and minimizing environmental damage are followed, regulators ruled on Wednesday. In a much-anticipated report, the Joint Review Panel said it believed the huge gas project would bring overall benefits to Canada's Northwest Territories and avoid major ecological impact if the oil companies proposing the line and governments follow its list of measures. The list is as diverse as analyzing the impact of climate change on facilities buried in permafrost, monitoring grizzly bear dens, and assessing if alcohol and drug abuse programs in the sparsely populated region are adequate. "The Mackenzie Gas Project and associated Northwest Alberta Facilities would provide the foundation for a sustainable northern future," the seven-member panel said. "The challenge to all will be to build on that foundation." The pipeline would carry at least 1.2 billion cubic feet of gas a day to the Alberta border from fields in the Mackenzie Delta near the Beaufort Sea. In Alberta, the gas could be routed to numerous markets in Canada and the United States. The JRP report, which concentrated on the project's environmental, social and economic impact, comes more than two years after public hearings into the development ended. The project is led by Imperial Oil Ltd. Imperial and its partners welcomed what appears to be a vote of confidence for the long-delayed project, but could not say yet if any of the recommended measures appear onerous, spokesman Pius Rolheiser said. The company has three weeks to respond to the report.
Posted 30 December 2009; 11:25:20 PM. Permalink
(Reid Magdanz/The Yale Globalist, 30 December 2009) -- Spring in Barrow, Alaska heralds the return of the sun, the slow thawing of the ice-covered sea, and, most importantly for the native Inuit, the arrival of the bowhead whales. As they have done for thousands of years, the whaling crews of Barrow haul their sealskin-covered boats, or umiaqs, to the ice's edge: It is time for the whale hunt. When a whale appears, the crews race after it, armed with guns and harpoons. If the pursuit is successful, the entire town helps butcher the whale and distribute the meat. Harry Brower, a whaling captain in Barrow, has been involved in the hunts since the early 1970s. Whaling has been in his family for generations. His grandfather, a Yankee whaler, arrived in Barrow in the late 1800s and established a trading company, and his Inuit ancestors have been whaling in Barrow since time immemorial. "It's culturally and spiritually significant," Brower said of the hunt. "The bowhead whale provides food, sustenance, for our communities." But Brower and others are deeply worried about the future of the whale hunt. Recently, interest in offshore oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean has intensified and for good reason: As much as 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its undiscovered gas lie north of the Arctic Circle, much of it offshore. The oil industry has poured billions of dollars into exploration in the Canadian Arctic in the past three years and NunaOil, Greenland's national oil company, expects the number of active offshore licenses in Greenland to double in the next 12 to 18 months. The U.S. government expected about $60 million in revenue from a lease sale held last year in the Chukchi Sea, off the northwest coast of Alaska. Industry bid $2.7 billion.
Posted 30 December 2009; 9:31:56 PM. Permalink
(Bob Weber/The Canadian Press via Yahoo! News, 27 December 2009) -- Even at noon, Inuvik's weak December sun never seems to light the Arctic community brighter than twilight — no longer night, not quite day. It's a little like how businessmen have been feeling about their own prospects in the Mackenzie Delta community after seemingly endless delays in a project they've pinned their hopes on - the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline. "Everyone's hoping for a positive announcement and away we go," says Kurt Wainman, who's got a yard full of heavy equipment sitting idle just waiting for some nice, juicy oilpatch work. Sometime this week, a little of Wainman's limbo will lift. More than three years after its original deadline, the long-awaited Joint Review Panel will finally table its report on the pipeline's environmental and social effects. That report will then be combined with a National Energy Board's report on the project's engineering and economics. The package will go before the federal cabinet, which can accept or reject its recommendations. Doubts are gathering around the increasingly expensive pipeline as new U.S. natural gas sources threaten markets for Mackenzie gas and depress its price. And although some feel the review panel's report will revive momentum behind the $16-billion, 1,200-kilometre project, the final decision is still a ways off. "There's a series of things that make a project go: No. 1 in importance is economics," says Bob Hastings, an energy analyst at Canaccord Capital in Vancouver.
Posted 27 December 2009; 11:18:39 AM. Permalink
(Ria Novosti, 26 December 2009) -- NOVO-OGARYOVO - Sovcomflot, Russia's largest shipping company, will start delivering Russian oil and gas in the eastern direction of its Arctic shipping lane in the summer, the company head said on Saturday. At a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Sergei Frank said Sovcomflot was planning to launch pilot shipments of Russian hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern direction of the Northern Sea Route, from the Atlantic to the Pacific via Russia's Arctic, later this year. "We will make such pilot deliveries in the summer," he said. Frank said the goal was to expand oil and gas markets for domestic energy producers and enter new ones. The businessman said though shipments via the Arctic had been made before, the scale and cargoes were different. "We are cooperating closely with the transportation and nuclear power ministries, and with the federal office of Rosatomflot [state-run civil nuclear fleet corporation] now to arrange everything properly for [oil and gas] shipments," Frank said. He said the eastward shipment experience would later be used in the development of West Siberia's Yamal fields and also for liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies.
Posted 27 December 2009; 11:16:30 AM. Permalink
(Mary Pemberton/Anchorage Daily News, 24 December 2009) -- Crews on Wednesday were continuing to remove snow contaminated with oil from an area around a well house where a pipe broke in the Prudhoe Bay oil field. Tom DeRuyter, the state's on-scene spill coordinator, said the area around the well house is misted with oil. He said 72 cubic yards of contaminated snow -- most of it from the well house's gravel pad -- have been removed, but there is more to go. The spill was discovered Monday morning by a BP oil field operator doing a routine inspection. The break in the 6-inch line occurred where the production line left the well house. The cause of the break is not yet known, DeRuyter said. "The case is going to be under investigation as to why the line parted," he said. BP spokesman Steve Rinehart said the well line broke at a weld and released an estimated 3 gallons of oil and 131 gallons of water. The estimation was reached by considering how much oil and water the pipe normally carried and how quickly the automatic shut-off valve worked, he said.
Posted 24 December 2009; 11:55:58 AM. Permalink
(Gleb Bryanski/Reuters, 18 December 2009) -- MOSCOW - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin launched an oil tanker on Friday capable of slicing through over a metre of ice, bringing Russia a step toward its decade-long ambition to launch its first offshore oilfield in the Arctic. State-run Gazprom has delayed the launch of its Prirazlomnoye oilfield for nearly ten years as it persists with domestic firms to equip the project, helping Russia develop the technical know-how to conquer other Arctic mineral riches. The 260-metre-long Kirill Lavrov was launched at the Admiralty Shipyards in St Petersburg, Putin's home city. "A year ago I saw anxious eyes of shipbuilders as they started work. It was a professional challenge," Putin was quoted as saying on the government's website, www.government.ru. Foreign reporters are not allowed to visit the shipyards. "It is amazing that such a giant was built in such a short period of time," Putin told shipbuilders. Russia, along with other countries bordering the Arctic, wants to assert its claims to the region's potentially huge mineral riches and is seeking to develop the relevant technology and fleet to develop lucrative deposits. The Kirill Lavrov, named after a popular Soviet actor renowned for playing the role of Vladimir Lenin, can break ice 1.2 metres thick when moving astern at a speed of three knots. It can reach a speed of 16 knots moving forward in open waters.
Posted 19 December 2009; 11:11:39 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver.com, 9 December 2009) -- Oil spill covered 100 square meters of land after an explosion in an oil-gathering line in the Yamalo-Nenets Okrug last week. According to the local Emergency Management Service, the accident was probably caused by metal fatigue, Uralinform.ru writes. A fire broke out, but was reported to have been put out quickly. No people were harmed in the accident and there was no danger of fire spreading. The pipe belongs to the company Rosneft-Purneftegaz.
Posted 11 December 2009; 4:17:49 PM. Permalink
(Lisa Demer/Anchorage Daily News, 8 December 2009) -- Officials have found a 24-inch jagged rupture in a pipeline that began pouring oil and water Nov. 29, creating one of the biggest North Slope crude oil spills ever. The on-scene coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Tom DeRuyter, said Tuesday that the breach on the bottom of the pipe was the biggest he had ever seen and indicative of the incredible pressure the pipeline was under when it split. Workers located the source of the leak Monday after cleanup crews hauled away spilled crude and contaminated snow and ice that had been obscuring the area. Officials say massive ice plugs had formed inside the pipe, which caused BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. to stop operating it a few weeks ago. Pressure then built up until the pipeline ruptured, according to BP. "It looks like it was caused by overpressure in the pipe, which we think was linked to ice forming—the plugs that have formed on either side of the release site," BP spokesman Steve Rinehart said. Most likely, rapidly forming ice plugs began to grow toward one other, creating a high-pressure area in between, DeRuyter said. "When a line does that, it rips out with a pretty impressive force and with a very large hole."
Posted 9 December 2009; 10:47:41 AM. Permalink
(Dan Joling/AP via Washington Post, 7 December 2009) -- Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the decision in Washington, D.C., and said a key component of reducing America's dependence on foreign oil is the environmentally responsible exploration and development of renewable and conventional resources. "By approving this exploration plan, we are taking a cautious but deliberate step toward developing additional information on the Chukchi Sea," he said in a release. Environmental groups bitterly oppose drilling. They say there has not been enough work to assess environmental risks in a sensitive marine ecosystem already stressed by climate change. "There hasn't been enough science," said Marilyn Heiman, director of the Pew Environment Group's U.S. Arctic program. "We don't know enough about the Arctic Ocean, particularly the Chukchi Sea, in the face of climate change." Pew and other groups also say petroleum companies have not demonstrated an ability to clean up a spill in broken ice conditions, especially in the waters off northern Alaska, where a cleanup much of the year would be hampered by low light, dangerous seas and little available infrastructure such as ports, response vessels and airports. "You can have a spill from an exploration well just as easily as a production well," Heiman said.
Posted 8 December 2009; 12:01:58 PM. Permalink
(Karl Ritter/AP via GoogleNews, 27 November 2009) -- TASIILAQ, Greenland - Gert Ignatiussen returns to this fjord-front Inuit town with the spoils of his hunting trip. Six seals, all killed with a single shot to the head. With nimble handwork, his wife Bartholine cuts them up on the porch of their wood-frame home, saving the best meat for dinner. Ignatiussen throws leftover chunks of flesh and intestines to the yelping sled dogs fettered on a dusty slope below the house. The blood-drenched scene offers a glimpse into Greenland's past—a time not long ago when seal hunting meant survival to nomadic Inuit tribes in one of the most hostile climates on Earth. Inside, Ingatiussen, 54, shows what he believes is Greenland's future: A collection of mineral-rich rocks that he has stashed away in a drawer if he ever needs money. Global warming is melting the fringes of the frozen world where Greenland's Inuits have hunted seal, whale and polar bear for generations. It's thawing the permafrost on which their homes are built. It's disrupting Arctic wildlife and fish stocks, and making hunting trips more dangerous by thinning the ice that supports their dog sleds. But all is not doom and gloom. The retreating ice could uncover potential oil and mineral resources which, if successfully tapped, could dramatically change the fortunes of this semiautonomous Danish territory of 57,000 people. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there are more than 18 billion barrels of oil and gas beneath the Arctic waters between Greenland and Canada, and 31 billion barrels off Greenland's east coast. North Sea resources of the same magnitude have made Norway one of Europe's richest countries. Even if only a small part becomes recoverable as the Arctic sea ice retreats, it would be enough for a major boost in living standards for Greenland's tiny population. "If we find those kind of quantities of oil and gas and the prices remain at current levels, then Greenland would be a very wealthy country, no doubt," said Joern Skov Nielsen, the director of Greenland's Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum.
Posted 28 November 2009; 12:08:04 PM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 16 November 2009) -- Industrial production in the far northern Nenets Autonomous Okrug increased 38.5 percent year-on-year in the first six months of 2009, the latest Barents Monitoring report confirms. That, however, is all thanks to Lukoil’s new Yuzhno-Khilchuyu oil field. The report, which is written by the Norwegian Barents Secretariat’s regional office in the Nenets AO, shows a positive dynamics in regional industrial production. However, other parts of the economy struggle with serious problems. The report shows that the oil-rich region with a population of only 42,300 in the first half of the year had an industrial production growth of 38.5 percent. A major increase in oil production was what made the positive trend. Oil production, including natural gas condensate, increased by more than 35 percent to a total of 9.08 million tons. Also electric power generation increased significantly in the region, with 28.5 percent year-on-year growth to a total of 475.2 million KWH. At the same time, the construction industry in the region showed a serious drop. The volume of work in the regional construction declined by as much as 52.9 percent compared to the same period in 2008. Housing construction dropped by 68.4 percent compared 2008. A total of 127 flats, or 6,300 square meters, was built in January-June 2009. Also investments dropped significantly in the region. According to the report, a total of 19.69 billion rubles were invested in the period, which is a 57.3 percent drop compared with the same period of 2008. The Nenets Autonomous Okrug still remains one regions with the highest salaries in Russia. The average accrued salary in the region was 42,566 rubles, which is up by 8.9% compared to the same period of 2008.
Posted 16 November 2009; 3:53:22 PM. Permalink
(UPI, 5 November 2009) -- ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The Shell oil corporation said it will decide within months whether to begin drilling for oil and gas off the Alaskan coast despite strong opposition. The Anchorage Daily News said Thursday that environmentalists and Alaska North Slope officials are opposing possible Arctic drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Scientists suspect the two seas may hold significant stores of oil and natural gas. Shell has already spent more than $2 billion to obtain leases in the seas, but its plans to drill there were delayed the last two years by successful litigation by the officials and environmentalists. The two drilling opponents allege drilling in the seas could lead to oil spills and negative impacts on the bowhead whale population in the surrounding area. Despite such delays, Shell has readied equipment for possible drilling to begin next summer. Shell Alaska Vice President Peter Slaib said Wednesday a final decision on the matter should be determined by December or January. The Daily News said key to Shell's drilling plans is whether the company can obtain federal air pollution permits for drilling.
Posted 6 November 2009; 12:03:51 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 16 October 2009) -- The Northwest Territories' hold in Canada's diamond processing industry may be getting undercut by Ontario, where a diamond-cutting plant opened recently, a Yellowknife MLA says. Yellowknife Centre MLA Robert Hawkins asked Premier Floyd Roland on Friday about the Crossworks Manufacturing Ltd. plant in Sudbury, Ont., where 27 experienced workers have been brought in from Vietnam to cut and polish diamonds. The Sudbury facility, the first of its kind in Ontario, is expected to handle about $25 million worth of rough-cut diamonds this year. It has a contract with DeBeers Canada, with the diamonds coming from that company's Victor Mine near James Bay. "Ontario has said that they want to be the new international diamond pipeline. That is their position now for Canada, that diamonds run through there," Hawkins said in the legislative assembly. The Northwest Territories has three diamond mines, all 200 to 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife: BHP Billiton's Ekati mine, DeBeers's Snap Lake mine and the Diavik mine, owned by Rio Tinto and the Harry Winston Diamond Limited Partnership. The capital city of Yellowknife, which has dubbed itself "North America's diamond capital," is home to several diamond processing plants, including one by Crossworks Manufacturing.
Posted 18 October 2009; 2:30:55 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 15 October 2009) -- Gazprom will make Murmansk the base for its expansion into the Arctic, company CEO Aleksei Miller highlighted at the Murmansk Economic Forum today. The forum, which opened in downtown Murmansk today, has “the conquering of the Arctic” as its slogan and puts prime focus on the development of the huge Shtokman gas field, located about 600 km off the Barents Sea coast. "Shtokman is strategically important for all of Russia," Mr. Miller said in his presentation at the forum. The Shtokman field was also the key component in the new cooperation agreement between Gazprom and Murmansk Oblast signed today. That agreement includes cooperation guidelines for the Shtokman development process, including for the laying of pipelines, construction of the LNG terminal and other facilities. Aleksey Miller after the signing ceremony stressed that Gazprom will build roads and develop infrastructure, establish staff training programmes and seek to take maximum advantage of the regional industrial supply potential. He also stressed that the company will spend significant sums on social projects in the region. The Shtokman field will also result in the gasification of the region, and thus open up for new industrial establishments, Miller said. In the forum session, Miller stressed that Shtokman is a Russian project and that the partnership with foreign companies Total and StatoilHydro will expire after the first field development phase. At the same time, he praised the cooperation model of the project, saying that it should be used also in other offshore projects in Russia.
Posted 16 October 2009; 3:48:24 PM. Permalink
(Joshua Kucera/The Atlantic, November 2009) -- Aqqaluk Lynge has a recurring nightmare: “When I’m lying awake at night, I pray we don’t find oil.” That anxiety puts Lynge, the president of Greenland’s chapter of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, a group representing indigenous people from Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and Russia, in the distinct minority of his 58,000 fellow islanders, most of whom hope that a huge oil find will ensure the success of Greenland’s independence from Denmark. Roughly 76 percent of the voters in a referendum last year wanted greater self-rule; on June 21 of this year, they got it. But as part of that self-rule deal, Denmark will end up reducing its annual subsidy to Greenland—about $11,000 per person, representing about 60 percent of the island’s budget. Hence the high hopes for oil revenue. Some estimates, including those of the U.S. Geological Survey, suggest Greenland’s coastal waters could hold anywhere from 16 billion to 47 billion barrels of oil, or 800,000 barrels for every man, woman, and child. That would mean a staggering leap in income for Greenlanders, who until two generations ago were mostly subsistence hunters and fishermen. With such massive potential oil reserves, Greenland is poised to achieve a geopolitical importance it hasn’t had since the invention of Risk. “We don’t want Greenland to be up for grabs,” worries Lynge. But oil has yet to actually be discovered, much less to flow, which is why Jens Frederiksen, the leader of Greenland’s Democratic Party, spearheaded the “no” campaign during last year’s referendum on self-governance. He says the government has too many pressing social needs—abysmal education levels, a crumbling public-housing stock, and massive rates of alcoholism—to reduce the Danish subsidy, especially since, even if oil is found, any revenue won’t start coming in for 15 or 20 years. Then there’s the fear that Greenland could become the Nigeria of the Arctic, another victim of the so-called resource curse, in which oil wealth triggers a downward spiral toward dysfunctional dictatorship. But judging from the offerings at the Greenland Expo, a trade fair held on the eve of Self-Governance Day, risking the curse may be an independent Greenland’s best hope for a viable future.
Posted 13 October 2009; 10:13:55 PM. Permalink
(UpstreamOnline, 6 October 2009)** -- The Nenets tribespeople of Russia's frozen Yamal peninsula have survived the age of the Tsars, the Bolshevik revolution and the chaotic 1990s, but now confront their biggest challenge—under their fur-bundled feet is enough gas to heat the world for five years. "For them it is fortune, for us terror," said 20-year-old herder Andrei Yezgini, dressed from head to toe in reindeer skin, referring to ambitious plans by state gas monopoly Gazprom to drill the region. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has described Yamal as "the world's storehouse" of gas and oil. Putin jetted into the sparsely populated region within the Arctic circle, 2000 kilometres (1250 miles) north-east of Moscow, in late September to woo foreign partners to develop a quarter of the world's known gas reserves. Experts and the Nenets say industry will damage and pollute the tundra, whose flat marshy terrain switches from marigold russets in summer to thick winter snow and is peppered with disc-like thermokarst lakes and crystal blue waterways. Nenets migrate north to south over 150 kilometres every year, spending only a few days in one place, living off reindeer and fish and lugging their "chums," or tents, kerosene lamps and wood-fired stoves on reindeer-pulled sleighs. "The fact they've found deposits here is catastrophic," said Slava Vanuito, 34.
Posted 8 October 2009; 3:24:41 PM. Permalink
(Sky News, 14 September 2009) -- Norwegians have voted in a general election that could lead to oil drilling in the Arctic. The future for the country's lucrative oil industry has been one of the main issues in the run-up to election. The Arctic is one of the world's most pristine environments—home to some of the rarest animals, and it is hoped, untapped oil and gas reserves. The controversial issue of drilling in the region has been stalled by political deadlock in Norway for many years. Current Labour Party Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has given his backing to the project but his Coalition government is split over the issue. His opponents support it. Mr Stoltenberg said he was aware the election would be a tight race. Voters are also concerned about how Norway will spend the vast revenue accumulated from its oil and gas industry. There are currently $US80,000 per citizen saved from the sales of oil and gas.
Posted 14 September 2009; 9:27:16 AM. Permalink
(Kurt Kristensen/SermitsiaqNews from Greenland [24 August 2009]. Sermitsiaq.gl. 2009-08-24. URL:http://sermitsiaq.gl/rss/en_newsletter.jsp. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/5jGu67JwM) -- It looks as if a mini gold rush is on the cards as the precious mineral is found in the south. Mineral research company NunaMinerals has spent up to 40 million kroner digging for gold this year. The company spent five of those millions drilling for gold in Greenland. It searched five different locations from late June to early August in South Greenland and in at least two of the wells, gold was visible to the naked eye, according to director Ole Christiansen. Most of the drilling took place in the Kirkespirdalen valley by Greenland's most southern town Nanortalik. NunaMinerals has applied for two new concessions. One 27sq km application entitled "Qassersuaq" would see drilling take place on the island of Qilanngarsuit, 35km south of Nuuk. The National Geological Surveys for Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) last year identified gold on the island and NunaMinerals has been swift with the concession application. Qilanngarsuit is part of the geological belt that is part of NunaMiner's gold province in Nuup Kangerlua (Nuuk Fjord).
Posted 24 August 2009; 10:06:32 AM. Permalink
(Ola Innset/Bellona, Charles Digges, trans., 18 August 2009) -- A nationwide survey undertaken by NRK Norwegian Television showed that a clear majority of Norwegians are against oil drilling near the north western coastal areas of Lofoten and Vesterålen, which are rich in fisheries and exceptional natural beauty. “David can slay Goliath,” said Bellona President Frederic Hauge. “We have a powerful enemy in the oil industry and they use considerable resources to sway public opinion with them.” In this Parliamentary election year for Norway, allowing or denying oil companies access to the oil oil reserves off the coasts of Lofoten and Vesterålen may trigger some of the most heated debates leading up to the autumn elections. Bellona has long advocated closing off the Lofoten and Vesterålen basins for the oil industry as “long-term oil-free areas.” Yet Norway’s oil reserves are also a source of the lion’s share of the country’s wealth, ensuring that the Scandinavian country has the highest standard of living of any country on earth. The divisions between those who are for drilling and against therefore may not, come election day, be so stark.
Posted 19 August 2009; 10:38:11 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 19 August 2009) -- Murmansk is getting ready for this year’s most important event, the first Murmansk International Economic Forum. More than 300 persons have so far registered as participations in the forum, which takes place in Murmansk October 15-17 and focuses on the theme “The Arctic in the 21st century – development strategies”. The aim is to initiate discussions on the economic development strategy of the North, the forum’s web site reads. Several conferences will be covering issues like development of the energy sector, the fishing industry, cross-border cooperation in the Barents region, management of natural resources in the North of Russia. Special attention will be focused on further development of Shtokman gas condensate field. As BarentsObserver reported earlier this summer, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will take part in the forum.
Posted 19 August 2009; 10:29:00 PM. Permalink
(Canwest News Service, 27 July 2009) -- The federal government unveiled a sweeping report on its Arctic policy Sunday, aimed at asserting Canada's claim to offshore resource rights while addressing development in the most remote regions of the country. The report, called Canada's Northern Strategy: Our North, Our Heritage, Our Future, was unveiled by Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon and Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl at a news conference in Gatineau, Que. As reported Saturday, the new report summarizes the "concrete action" being taken in the four main areas of the government's northern strategy—sovereignty, social and economic development, the environment and governance reform—and casts Canada as a leader on the international stage when it comes to charting the Arctic's future. "Our government is making the North one of our top priorities, placing it higher on the agenda than it has been in many decades," said Strahl. Among the hallmarks of the strategy include building Canada's largest icebreaker, CCGS John G. Diefenbaker, to assist in Arctic naval patrols, and the construction of a deep-sea port for refuelling in Nanisivik. The Mackenzie Gas Project, a 1,200-kilometre natural gas pipeline that will be partly owned by local Aboriginal populations, will be the centrepiece of the economic platform. The report was released just days after U.S. and Canadian scientists announced a joint project to continue mapping much of the Arctic seabed north of Alaska and the Northwest Territories.
Posted 27 July 2009; 11:03:48 AM. Permalink
(Anchorage Daily News, 27 July 2009) -- North Slope production dropped 17 percent from May to June as the trans-Alaska oil pipeline took its first planned summer timeout for maintenance work June 20-21. North Slope production dropped below 300,000 barrels per day over that weekend. For the entire month, oil companies produced 591,666 barrels a day in June from the Slope's oil fields, compared with 714,913 in May. At the biggest field, the BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. run Prudhoe Bay, a plant called gathering center 2, which handles production from many wells, went down June 2 for a month-long turnaround. Production at Prudhoe averaged 248,747 barrels per day in June, down 31 percent from May.
Posted 27 July 2009; 10:22:31 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 22 July 2009) -- The Sami Parliament will not approve new mining projects in the northernmost Norwegian county of Finnmark, parliament speaker Egil Olli says. The Sami Parliament has strongly opposed the Norwegian national mineral law which was adopted by Norwegian legislators earlier this year. The parliament was unable to get its positions included in the law and has since threatened with a boycott of the new legislation. The Sami Parliament will not accept any mineral exploration in the region and will turn down all applications from interested companies, Olli stresse [sic] says to ABC Nyheter. "The Sami Parliament in May decided that it can not accept the mineral industry which the law is supposed to regulate," he adds. As reported previously by BarentsObserver, the Sami Parliament demands that local Sami communities get more benefits from regional industrial activities and that mining companies pay special fees for the indigenous people.
Posted 22 July 2009; 12:24:31 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 13 July 2009) -- The strictly closed and militarized islands of Novaya Zemly are located 360 km closer to the Shtokman field than the coast of the Kola Peninsula. That makes the archipelago the most suited place for base activities for the Shtokman developers, leader of the local administration Vladimir Smetanin writes in the latest issue of the Sozvezdye journal. "If one looks at the map of Russian Arctic hydrocarbon fields, it is easy to be convinced that Novaya Zemlya has the most favorable location for field development," he argues. Mr. Smetanin writes that the islands have well developed social and transport infrastructure ready to be applied by the Shtokman field developers. The area has five mooring points capable of handling all kind of vessels, and the Amderma-2 airport, which is in the process of being extended and modernized, he maintains. It also has schools, kindergartens, hotels, restaurants and shops, he adds. The local mayor does not however touch upon the strictly militarized status of the area and the ban on foreign visitors. As BarentsObserver has reported, several places now step up bids for base functions in the Shtokman development. Among them is the Norwegian border town of Kirkenes, which maintains that its ice-free and deep-sea fjord can provide valuable service functions for the gas field development.
Posted 13 July 2009; 4:37:34 PM. Permalink
(Claudia Cattaneo/Financial Post, 14 June 2009) -- CALGARY - Abundant cheap supplies of natural gas from new shale deposits, plus growing imports of liquefied natural gas flowing into the United States, push back by 15 years the need for Arctic gas and make it difficult for higher-cost gas from Western Canada to compete, says pipeline executive Steve Letwin. The North American natural gas industry is "overbuilt," pointing to weak prices for a long time, said Mr. Letwin, Houston-based executive vice-president, gas transportation and international, at Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge Inc. Years of worry about supply shortages because of the maturing of conventional supplies have been replaced by worries there aren't enough customers for the 1,200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in shale deposits -- enough to last a century -- found in the past three years, plus liquefied natural gas coming from offshore that is "needed like a hole in the head," Mr. Letwin said in an interview. "The biggest issue that we now have is [insufficient] demand," said Mr. Letwin. "And in the absence of demand, you are going to see a price for gas that is going to be kept between US$5 and US$7 for a long time to come." ... While oil prices have increased by 60% since the beginning of the year, on expectations that global supplies will be tight due to lack of investment when the economy recovers, natural gas prices are down 30% over the same period. Natural gas closed in New York at US$3.857 on Friday, down US7.6¢, on concern that demand from industrial and power plant consumers will be below normal levels until the end of the year. Mr. Letwin said prices could weaken further before the heating season starts in November. Shale producers in the U.S. can make money at low prices, he said. But the trend is not promising for natural gas stranded in the Arctic, which has been waiting for decades for pipelines to be built so it can be commercialized.
Posted 17 June 2009; 6:01:37 PM. Permalink
(Reuters, 5 June 2009) -- OSLO - Norwegian oil and gas group StatoilHydro and Russia's Gazprom agreed on Friday to extended cooperation in exploring and producing petroleum resources in northern regions, StatoilHydro said. The agreement is valid for three years and replaces a similar 2005 Arctic cooperation deal between Gazprom, Statoil and Norsk Hydro (Oslo: NHY.OL - news) before Statoil bought Norsk Hydro's oil and gas assets to form StatoilHydro in 2007. StatoilHydro is partnered with Gazprom and France's Total to develop the giant Shtokman gas field in Russia's part of the Barents Sea in the Arctic. 'The Memorandum stipulates that the parties will cooperate in northern regions of Russia and Norway to discover and develop hydrocarbon fields, as well as to design technologies for exploration, production and transportation of corresponding resources,' StatoilHydro said in a statement. Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller, who signed the deal with StatoilHydro's CEO Helge Lund in St Petersburg, said Shtokman would be 'the starting point' for developing Arctic oil and gas resources. Gazprom has said it expects to take an investment decision on Shtokman with Total and StatoilHydro in the first quarter of 2010, and aims to begin exporting gas by pipeline from the field in 2013 and as liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2014. Lund said the cooperation deal underscored the long-term continuity of the relationship between StatoilHydro and Gazprom.
Posted 5 June 2009; 8:46:23 PM. Permalink
(Claudia Cattaneo/Financial Post, 7 May 2009) -- Calling the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline "a national embarrassment," the president of MGM Energy Corp. said yesterday his company will stop drilling in the Arctic until a decision to construct the long-stalled project is made. The tiny firm found or acquired so much natural gas it's become the No. 4 resource holder in the Mackenzie Delta since being founded two years ago by Calgary oilman Clay Riddell to take advantage of opportunities left behind by bigger companies losing faith. Now, it can no longer justify spending money "on a hope and a prayer," said president Henry Sykes. "This is an embarrassment to the country --this project, the regulatory system ... and yet nothing is happening," Mr. Sykes said in an interview. "While I remain optimistic that there will eventually be a pipeline, I have given up predicting timing. Between the regulatory process and the fiscal negotiations, I think this has taken far too long." MGM struck an agreement, announced yesterday, with partners Chevron Corp. and BP PLC to defer drilling the final three wells required under a farm-out agreement until after there is a decision to build. The pipeline, last estimated to cost $16-billion, was supposed to start moving Arctic gas to Alberta this year. But with regulatory reviews and negotiations on fiscal terms with Ottawa taking years longer than anticipated, Imperial said last week the project might be completed by 2014 to 2016, provided there is a regulatory decision next year. Imperial and its partners, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, ConocoPhillips and the Aboriginal Pipeline Group would then have to decide if they want to go ahead.
Posted 7 May 2009; 10:34:20 AM. Permalink
(Dan Joling/Anchorage Daily News, 6 May 2009) -- Shell Oil announced Wednesday it has withdrawn its 2007-2009 "plan of exploration" for offshore petroleum along the north coast of Alaska. The company said it would present pared-down exploration plans to the federal Minerals Management Service in 2010. The announcement did not come as a surprise. Shell's exploratory drilling was halted in November by panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which concluded that the MMS had improperly given its OK. Judges ordered the agency to reconsider how exploratory drilling would affect wildlife and Inupiat Eskimo subsistence hunting and fishing. The court vacated its order in March and the matter is pending. However, Shell in December announced it had canceled exploratory drilling for 2009 while it focused on court challenges and put together a drilling plan for 2010 and 2011. Shell is one of the world's largest oil companies, but it had largely been absent from Alaska until a few years ago when it began acquiring leases off the state's northern coast. The company spent more than $2 billion last year for leases in federal waters of the Chukchi Sea.
Posted 7 May 2009; 10:02:26 AM. Permalink
(upstreamonline, 22 April 2009) -- StatoilHydro may see its dominance eroded in Norway’s Arctic as ExxonMobil and Shell are set to bid in the country’s first frontier oil and natural gas licensing round for three years. Norway has offered 28 complete and partial blocks in the Barents Sea and 51 in the Norwegian Sea, which straddles the Arctic Circle. The permits will be awarded “sometime in the spring”, Jon Evang, an Oil Ministry spokesman, told Bloomberg, without being more specific. State-controlled StatoilHydro is the only producer in the Barents Sea, with the Snohvit gas field. It is also planning to develop the nearby Goliat oilfield with Italy’s Eni for $4 billion. ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell are among the 46 companies to request blocks, almost twice as many as in 2006. “StatoilHydro will have the most to lose,” Oswald Clint, an analyst at Sanford C Bernstein in London told Bloomber. “If it doesn’t find big enough discoveries, then they have to say: ‘Look, we have to shift focus and start exploring internationally’. In that arena they’re competing with everyone else.”
Posted 23 April 2009; 10:42:34 AM. Permalink
(Jakub M. Godzimirski/Russian Analytical Digest, No. 58, 21 April 2009) - The gas conflict between Russia and Ukraine that broke out in January 2009 underscored again the vulnerability of Russia’s main gas customers in Europe. In a situation when 70 percent of Russian gas exported to European customers has to be shipped through the territory of Ukraine, which has its own unsettled energy scores with Russia, any sharpening of the conflict between those two countries has dire consequences for security of supply of Russia’s main gas customers further west and south. The EU, Russia and Ukraine are aware of the situation and each of these three actors has adopted a different strategy to cope with this difficult challenge. In order to understand what has been the Russian long-term strategic response to that challenge this article examines what could be termed the Northern dimension of the Russian gas strategy.
Posted 22 April 2009; 11:46:20 AM. Permalink
(ENS, 17 April 2009) -- WASHINGTON, DC, April 17, 2009 (ENS) - Three conservation groups and a native village in Alaska declared victory today as the federal government's attempt to expand oil and gas drilling off the Alaska coast was vacated by a U.S. appeals court in Washington, DC. The three judge panel ruled that the Bush-era Department of the Interior failed to consider the impact of drilling on the ocean and on marine life before it began the process in August 2005 of expanding an oil and gas leasing program in the Beaufort, Bering, and Chukchi seas. The court ordered the Interior Department, headed currently by Secretary Ken Salazar, to analyze the proposed leasing areas to determine the risk of environmental damage before moving ahead with lease sales. The judges sided with the Center for Biological Diversity, Alaska Wilderness League, Pacific Environment and the Native Village of Point Hope, who argued that the 2007-2012 Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Program would turn sensitive areas into polluted industrial zones.
Posted 18 April 2009; 3:38:10 PM. Permalink
(Deborah Zabarenko/Reuters, 24 March 2009) -- "A thick pancake of shiny black" covered the still waters of Prince William Sound in the hours after the Exxon Valdez split open in an ecological disaster that offers lessons for any future forays for Arctic oil, eyewitness and conservationist Dennis Kelso recalled. As Alaska's environment conservation chief 20 years ago, it was Kelso's job to enforce clean-up standards around the supertanker on March 24, 1989, as it leaked oil into prime fishing grounds. The Valdez ultimately spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaskan waters, fouling 1,300 miles of coastline and disrupting or killing marine wildlife. The clean-up cost more than $2 billion and is still proceeding. Exxon, now known as ExxonMobil, paid some $1 billion in damages, and state and federal governments are seeking $92 million more. Kelso, now with the environmental group Ocean Conservancy, remembered traveling to the spill site in a small Coast Guard vessel with Alaska's then-Governor Steve Cowper, about six hours after the Valdez hit Bligh Reef. ... Kelso saw the Valdez spill and its aftermath as a systemic failure. "It was the breakdown of an industrial system that the public had been assured would not break down," he said. "And because it was thought to be so reliable, some of the safeguards had been dismantled." Beyond the ecological devastation, Kelso said, the damage from the Valdez disaster calls into question whether Arctic offshore drilling should be part of U.S. energy strategy. Clean-up and recovery of oil has never been successfully accomplished in rough, ice-laden Arctic water, he said. The Bush administration's decision to offer millions of acres (hectares) of oil and gas leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas and Bristol Bay were based on 40-year-old information that failed to take the effects of global warming into account, Kelso said.
Posted 26 March 2009; 4:22:21 PM. Permalink