Shell still wants Chukchi drilling

From Reuters:

Shell still plans Chukchi drilling despite ruling

Mon Apr 20, 2009

By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Royal Dutch Shell still plans to start exploration drilling next year in Alaska’s potentially oil-rich Chukchi Sea in spite of a new legal setback, a company manager in Alaska said on Monday.

Pete Slaiby, Shell’s general manager for Alaska, said the company remains committed to drilling in Arctic waters off Alaska and to build that into a major new production base for oil and gas, even after a decision from an appeals court in Washington, D.C. on Friday that found the federal offshore leasing plan of the Bush administration
to be illegal.

“We still have every intention of pursuing a drilling program in the Beaufort and the Chukchi,” Slaiby told the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce.

Friday’s court ruling declared invalid the Minerals Management Service‘s five-year federal leasing plan under which Shell and others acquired exploration rights in the ice-choked Chukchi. The court ruled that the MMS failed to do proper environmental reviews before authorizing the 2007-2012 leasing program, and ordered the agency to rewrite the plan.

Last year’s record-breaking Chukchi Sea lease sale, which drew $2.66 billion in high bids, was the only Alaska lease sale that was conducted under the current five-year plan. Shell was the biggest bidder, putting up $2.1 billion for exploration rights.

ConocoPhillips, Spain’s Repsol Exploration and Production, Norway’s StatoilHydro and Italy’s Eni also picked up leases in that Chukchi Sea sale.

ConocoPhillips, which spent about $500 million acquiring leases there, has planned to start exploration drilling in 2010, on a schedule similar to that of Shell‘s. …

Separate litigation also over environmental reviews, meanwhile, has stalled Shell‘s plans for exploration drilling at its Sivulliq prospect in the Beaufort Sea, a project the company had intended to start in 2007. …

Offshore Arctic Alaska oil development has long been controversial. The area is used by polar bears and various types of whales, which are protected by the Endangered Species Act, and other marine mammals that are considered to be vulnerable to the Arctic’s rapidly warming climate.

Oil installations in Arctic are bad for birds, good for predators: here.

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2010 – World Wildlife Fund’s long campaign to protect Alaska’s Arctic seas and coastlines from oil and gas development won a major victory last night when a federal court put a hold on recent leases that would have opened up the Chukchi Sea to new drilling: here.

DRILLING FOR OIL AGAIN IN ALASKA? “Royal Dutch Shell submitted a plan to the federal government on Thursday to try once again to explore for oil in the Alaskan Arctic, following years of legal and logistical setbacks as well as dogged opposition from environmentalists. While the plan is just a first step in the process, it reflects the energy potential in the Arctic. Shell’s proposed programs consist of two drilling rigs working simultaneously in the Chukchi Sea, which could produce more than 400,000 barrels of oil a day.” [NYT]

11 thoughts on “Shell still wants Chukchi drilling

  1. West’s access to Iraqi oil in doubt

    * Terry Macalister
    * April 19, 2009

    Pumping up dispute’s volume … a worker checks valves at the al-Doura oil refinery outside Baghdad.

    Pumping up dispute’s volume … a worker checks valves at the al-Doura oil refinery outside Baghdad. Photo: Reuters

    EXPECTATIONS that foreign companies can cash in on Iraq’s oil riches are in doubt after a key parliamentary body in Baghdad pledged to “push Shell out” and halt a forthcoming licensing round.

    The warning from the secretary of the Iraqi parliament’s oil and gas committee, Jabir Khalifa Jabir, was seen by financial analysts yesterday as a serious threat to Western investment opportunities in a country that holds the second-largest oil reserves in the world.

    Shell has been considered a front runner in the race to seize control of the Iraqi energy sector after signing a $US4 billion ($5.5 billion) deal to process and market gas from the south and ship it, possibly to Britain, as liquefied natural gas.

    But the preliminary agreement – and a subsequent deal with China National Petroleum Corporation – were unconstitutional and detrimental to Iraq’s economic interests, said Mr Jabir, who worked for more than 15 years at Iraq’s state-run Southern Gas Company.

    “We are going to do everything we can to revoke this deal and to push Shell out,” he said.

    “Both these deals are illegal because they didn’t go through parliament. The companies and their lawyers knew the old Iraqi oil law very well.”

    Any new deals Baghdad signs in bidding rounds under way with BP and others would also be subject to revocation, he warned.

    The Oil Ministry has said it does not need parliament’s approval to sign new deals but Mr Jabir argued that Iraqi law 97 clearly states all arrangements of this nature must be passed by parliament.

    The committee had studied the preliminary Shell deal for the past six months and all members have concluded that it is illegal, he said.

    The deal with Shell and the wider oil licensing round have been controversial because many critics believed they were unduly influenced by the United States and Britain, who occupied the country after toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003. Critics saw the invasion as a “war for oil” and believed it would open the way for US and British oil companies to regain assets seized from them decades earlier through nationalisation.

    Analysts at IHS Global Insight, an economic forecasting group, said the latest developments were alarming, especially given Shell was expected to formalise its southern gas deal within the next few weeks.

    “The Shell deal looks increasingly like a litmus test for progress on all Iraq’s oil and gas projects, with any potential failure likely to remove most of the political legitimacy from the Oil Ministry’s interpretation of Iraq’s constitution and oil law,” they argued.


  2. Dear Friend,

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    Take action now to help put a stop to oil shale development!

    Americans are finally admitting that our addiction to fossil fuels has got to be curbed, but Big Oil is not giving up.

    Right now, oil companies want the federal government to hand over millions of acres of land in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado to oil shale development. And unfortunately, rules issued by the Bush Administration that allow commercial oil shale development are still in effect.

    What’s oil shale? Simply put, it’s the dirtiest fossil fuel in the world. It is rock that needs to be mined, processed, and burned at high temperatures using extraordinary amounts of water to yield useful fuel. If development moves forward as planned, the impact on these Western states will be devastating.

    Take action now urging the Bureau of Land Management to halt oil shale development on public lands!

    If you support a cleaner, greener future, there’s nothing to like about oil shale.

    First, it’s extremely resource intensive. To extract it, ten new coal-fired power plants would have to be built in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. What’s more, the amount of water needed to process oil shale development sites would place the water resources of these arid lands under immense stress, forever changing the lives of people and wildlife in the region.

    In the quest for new energy sources, dirty fossil fuels are not the answer. This sort of reckless development puts our wild places at risk. Places like Colorado’s Piceance Basin, a spectacular expanse of rolling sagebrush inhabited by North Americas largest herd of mule deer, would be saturated with pollution and carved up by miles of roads and pipelines.

    It’s time to move our nation away from dirty fossil fuel dependency. Click here to stop oil shale development today.

    Protecting our public lands not only ensures our natural heritage, but is essential for real economic recovery. Your letter today will help make all the difference.


    Kathy Kilmer
    The Wilderness Society


  3. Scientists continue battle for fate of polar bears

    By Randy Boswell, Canwest News ServiceMay 25, 2009

    A top Canadian researcher at the centre of a scientific battle over the fate of polar bears in the melting Arctic says the latest war of words — a published “rebuttal” of a 2008 U.S.-led study that argued climate change may not seriously threaten the iconic species after all — has significant implications in this country.

    “For Canada, this rebuttal paper has resonance because there has similarly been a certain amount of nonsense questioning whether climate warming is going to be bad for polar bears,” Ian Stirling, an Edmonton-based emeritus researcher with Environment Canada, told Canwest News Service. “As we lose sea ice, we will lose polar bear habitat and their numbers will decline accordingly. It is not a complicated concept.”

    Stirling joined six U.S. scientists last week as co-authors of a stinging journal article in which they defended research papers they had prepared in advance of the U.S. government’s May 2008 decision to list the polar bear as threatened under U.S. endangered species legislation.

    The scientists — including experts from the U.S. Geological Survey and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution — also delivered a “point-by-point” refutation of a controversial study published last year in the journal Interfaces that claimed “unscientific” use of data by Stirling and a host of U.S. federal researchers had resulted in a significant overestimate of the impact of climate change on polar bear populations.

    This critical “audit” of the science behind the listing of the polar bear — co-written by University of Pennsylvania marketing professor Scott Armstrong, Harvard University physicist Willie Soon and Australian economist Kesten Green — slammed the forecasting methods used by scientists who predict sharp declines in polar bear numbers as sea ice recedes.

    Their critique led, in turn, to last week’s Interfaces rebuttal by Stirling and his U.S. colleagues, who insisted that the Armstrong-led study offered “no valid criticism” on the polar bear question and “only serves to distract from reasoned public-policy debate.”

    Despite the scientific controversy, U.S. officials recently upheld the May 2008 decision by former president George W. Bush’s administration to formally list the polar bear as threatened.

    In Canada, the federal Conservative government has commissioned further research and convened nationwide consultations aimed at deciding how this country should proceed in protecting the polar bear as its traditional Arctic habitat is transformed by rising temperatures and thawing ice.

    A number of Inuit leaders in Canada have expressed concerns about the U.S. listing of the polar bear.

    In March, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said: “I don’t think anyone disagrees the whole process of climate change has implications for polar bears. What those implications are is still under scientific investigation. It could be positive, it could be negative.”

    But Stirling, in an e-mail to Canwest News Service, said the changes happening to the polar bear’s environment — particularly the record-setting retreat of Arctic sea ice over the past two years — are unquestioningly harmful to the species.

    “One sees all manner of either misleading statements, or ones that are taken out of context, to even suggest in some cases that climate change will be good for polar bears, or at least that they will just adapt to life on land,” he said. “Really, it is not a complicated question. Polar bears evolved to exploit an ecological niche on the sea ice. They are large, specialized predators that depend on the sea ice for their existence.”

    In their rebuttal, Stirling — along with USGS scientist Steven Amstrup, Woods Hole biologist Hal Caswell and four other researchers — concluded that the climate change forecasts attacked in the audit are, in fact, entirely accurate and that “all showed dire effects for polar bears across large portions of their current range.”

    © Copyright (c) Canwest News Service


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