In the last few years the ice of the Arctic has been melting increasingly fast. This has increased the willingness of oil companies of all colors and stripes to dig there. Among them, the Royal Dutch Shell.
Given how Arctic oil would be difficult to retrieve safely and how little they would ease the pressure on prices – see my previous posts on the matter – it’s no surprise that the company has suspended for this year its activities there.
Here is an extract from the Economist :
ENGINEERS generally relish a challenge—particularly those working for a big oil company: the harder the task, the more they seem to like it. But even Shell’s most ambitious technical boffins may be starting to wonder about the firm’s venture into the Arctic wastes. On February 27th the oil giant said that it would give up hunting for oil in the icy northern waters this year.
Shell’s Arctic adventure has been beset with difficulties. Last year the firm had to stop drilling a couple of test wells after a spill-containment vessel was damaged.
Then one drilling ship suffered troubles with its propulsion and pollution-control systems as well as a small fire. And at the end of 2012 another drilling rig, the Kulluk, ran aground in Alaska. Both need repairs that will put them out of action for long enough to make drilling this year impossible before the Arctic sea freezes over again.
Drilling offshore for oil is already a messy and dangerous business, if you are not convinced, think about what happened in the Gulf of Mexico. Drilling in the Arctic would be even more dangerous because of the ice, the temperatures and so on.
As alternatives do exist and become cheaper and cheaper – on top of being cleaner and more job creating – it’s high time some people just understand that the oil age won’t end because there is no more oil, but just because it’s out-dated and not competitive.