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Shell Wins U.S. Permit To Prepare For Arctic Drilling

Kasia Klimasinska, Bloomberg
Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) said it will be difficult to complete an exploratory well in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska this year even after the company received a permit to begin limited preparatory work.

Shell will be allowed to drill 1,400 feet under the seabed with the permit granted yesterday by the U.S. Interior Department. The company still needs U.S. Coast Guard approval for a spill-containment barge before a permit can be issued to drill about 4,000 feet deeper, into oil reservoirs.

For the company that spent $4.5 billion to explore the Chukchi and Beaufort seas time is running out — it takes at least 20 days to complete a well and Shell has to stop drilling in the oil-bearing zone in the Chukchi Sea by Sept. 24. The company asked for an extension, a request the Interior Department said it is still considering.

Completing a well in the Chukchi “will be very, very difficult without the extension,” Pete Slaiby, Shell’s head of Alaska operations, told reporters during a conference call from Anchorage yesterday…
(30 August 2012)

Gazprom puts giant Shtokman Russian Arctic gas project on ice over costs

Emily Gosden, The Daily Telegraph
Russian state-controlled gas company Gazprom has shelved plans to develop the giant Shtokman gas field in the Arctic, blaming the high costs of the flagship project.

One of the world’s largest gas fields, Shtokman lies some 340 miles off shore, deep under the freezing waters of the Barents Sea. It contains almost 4 trillion cubic meters of gas – more than the Norwegian and UK continental shelves combined – and 56m tons of gas condensate.

But weakened demand in target export markets and high Russian taxes have stacked up to make the huge costs of developing the remote field uneconomic…
(29 August 2012)

Cold Hands, Determined Hearts

Kumi Naidoo Executive Director of Greenpeace, Environmental Newswire
ONBOARD THE ARCTIC SUNRISE – When I spoke to my friends and family this weekend I was unanimously scolded. After Friday’s 15-hour occupation of Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Pechora Sea, they all said “you’re getting too old for this!” With blue hands and feet from the cold, and in the midst of being treated by our ship doctor Marcelo for hypothermia, for a moment I thought they could be right.

But then I returned to the spirit on board our ship the Arctic Sunrise; the eager faces of my fellow activists Sini, Jens, Lars, Basil and Terry, the determination of our Captain Vlad, and the rest of the committed crew who were standing up for what they believed was right. Coming back to this I knew that the risks had been worth it.

For me, an action like the one we’ve just completed in the Arctic is Greenpeace at its best. Teams united in the one goal, taking a risk to confront dangerous industry at the frontlines of destruction, and shining a light on an environmental crime that happens out of the sights and minds of most regular people…
(28 August 2012)

Peak oil returns: the “unconventional oil” bubble may well pop in Arctic waters

Antoine Ebel, Worldwatch blog
Last week, I attended a Washington event on Arctic energy; I was hoping for some insights on the challenges ahead, namely greenhouse gas emissions, diplomatic tensions, and indigenous rights. Since Arctic exploitation hasn’t yet enjoyed a “Keystone XL” level of public attention, it seemed healthy to get some first-hand information from Arctic experts, as major oil players like Shell are getting closer to full-scale commercial exploitation. After all, a generation’s treasure chest often turns out to be another generation’s ticking bomb.

Instead, I ended up listening to lengthy presentations by analysts, consultants, fellows and executives talking about climate change “removing constraints”, “effective diplomatic work” being made, and “supply chain complexity” hampering the process, for a solid two hours. There’s a saying in the marketing industry that ‘eco-friendly’ should be the third button to push when advertising a product, after, say, affordability or quality. In this discussion, ‘eco-friendly’ was clearly the fourth or fifth button, if it was mentioned at all. One should have expected this, however, as the event invitation used no apparent irony when announcing in the same sentence that Arctic experts would examine “what nations can do to protect the environment andincrease production” (my emphasis)…

It took the panelists more than two hours to put Arctic energy exploitation in the context of climate change and diminishing resources, and it was only in passing. One expert asserted that “the energy transition story was more a hundred years story than a thirty years story”, and left it at that. ..
(3 August 2012)