Two major oil companies cancel Arctic drilling plans

by Sune Scheller

April 10, 2013

10 APR 2013 : Two Greenpeace activists dressed as polar bears climb the oil drilling rig West Hercules at an upgrading facility in Ølen, Rogaland in Western Norway. The curious polar bears began inspecting the rig which is due to leave shortly for the Arctic as part of Statoil’s extensive summer drilling program in the northern reaches of the Barents Sea. Nick Cobbing/Greenpeace

Nick Cobbing

Greenpeace activists scale Statoil drilling rig shortly before the company announces its canceling its drilling plans this year

This morning two polar bears scaled Norwegian oil company Statoil’s rig bound for the worlds northernmost drilling sites in the Arctic this summer. Just a few hours later Statoil announced that their Arctic drilling will not take place this year. ConocoPhillips announced today that they too will be cancelling 2014 Arctic drilling plans north of Alaska due to regulatory irregularities.

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Thats fantastic news for the Arctic environment and the nearly 3 million strong global movement demanding a total ban on oil drilling and industrial fishing in this fragile region. Although Statoil, ConocoPhillips and all oil companies should commit to no Arctic drilling ever, any setback the oil industry suffers in their plans to exploit the Arctic is one step closer to making it permanent.

In February, Shell announced they will shelve drilling plans for 2013 in the same region after a year of comical mishaps in the Alaskan Arctic. In the wake of Shells dubious efforts, Statoil shortly after announced they too would have to reconsider drilling in the Chukchi Sea.

Elsewhere, the situation is unfortunately different. The setback in the US part of the Arctic stands in contrast to the Russian offshore development where oil companies no doubt expect minimal interference from the government. Gazprom is expected to begin oil production on its Prirazlomnoye oil field in the fourth quarter of this year and Rosneft is teaming up with Statoil for future exploitation.

Still, thats three companies in a month coming to terms with reality. Arctic governments should take the hint from these three strikes and rule all oil drilling out of the Arctic.

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By Sune Scheller

Sune Scheller is an Arctic campaigner with Greenpeace Nordic.

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