By Anders Lorenzen
Dutch oil giant Shell declared last night that it would abandon its ambitious plans for drilling in the Alaskan Arctic in 2013. In a press statement they said:
“We’ve made progress in Alaska, but this is a long-term programme that we are pursuing in a safe and measured way.Our decision to pause in 2013 will give us time to ensure the readiness of all our equipment and people following the drilling season in 2012.’’
The news was received in a jubilant mood by environmental campaign group Greenpeace, who have campaigned aggressively to make Shell drop its Arctic drilling plans, deeming them unsafe and that no oil spill precautions have been taking into consideration. Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven commented:
“Shell’s multi-billion dollar Arctic investment lies in tatters tonight, and so does the company’s reputation. They were warned again and again that they’d underestimated the huge challenges posed by drilling off Alaska, but they pushed on regardless, determined to spark a new Arctic oil rush. Shell got burned in the Arctic this year, but when they try to come back we’ll be waiting for them, and if the Obama administration doesn’t stop them drilling, then millions of us will.’’
As we reported in early January, Shell’s plans for drilling in the Arctic have been dominated by a series of failings with their latest farce being drilling rig, The Kulluk, running aground in the Alaskan waters around New Years Day. This subsequently prompted the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, an environmental committee within the US Congress, to order an review of Shell’s plans in the Arctic.
In a strange move, Shell today released its long term energy outlook in which it predicts that solar power could be the world’s main energy source by 2070. It noted that in 2000 there was 1 gigawatt (GW) installed solar capacity worldwide, while in 2012 that had risen to 102 gigawatts (GW). Shell closed down its solar power company four years ago and has since 2009 been concentrating on biofuels as an alternative energy.
Though in the short term they are still planning to drill in the Arctic, and insist this is just a delay and that the area holds great potential and opportunities in the long term for the company. They could however be forced along with other other companies including Norwegian oil company, Statoil, (who also have plans for Arctic drilling) to completely abandon their Arctic adventure if US President, Barack Obama were to reject their permits as he is being encouraged to do by some Politicians, Greenpeace and other environmental groups.
Subedited by Charlotte Paton