Every time that I see “Arctic” paired with “oil” in the one sentence, I start getting antsy. It can only mean one thing, and that one thing is eventually going to see oil spills coating ice-sheets rocking up on the front pages of our newspapers. And over and over people are reminded that whatever oil lays beneath those icy plains, won’t sustain the planet for very long.
A government-run US Geological Survey found that 90 billion barrels of oil and a vast quantity of natural gas is waiting beneath the Arctic Circle. These results came to light late last week, once again reenergizing publicity for the future of Arctic drilling.
According to the study, 90 billion barrels of crude, 1,670 trillion cubic feet of gas and 44 million barrels of natural gas liquids, are all just waiting for humans to come and extract them at any cost. Those humans will probably be representatives of the six countries that own – for a given value of “own” – stakes in the Arctic; Russia, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Greenland and the US.
“The Alaska platform really looms as the most obvious place to look for oil in the Arctic right now,” said USGS geologist Donald Gautier.
“Before we can make decisions about our future use of oil and gas and related decisions about protecting endangered species, native communities and the health of our planet, we need to know what’s out there,” said USGS Director Mark Myers. “With this assessment, we’re providing the same information to everyone in the world so that the global community can make those difficult decisions.”
These are just a few of the comments that have been sparked by the release of this survey, pointing to what is believed to be about 22% of the undiscovered but recoverable resources on our planet. Gautier seems more than willing to rush right in, whereas at least Myers is exhibiting a modicum of caution.
But do you know how much 90 billion barrels of oil would last for under current usage rates?
Almost three bloody years!
I’m sorry, but am I the only one sitting here thinking it’s a stupid idea to throw all of this money and effort in to trying to retrieve three… no, almost three year’s worth of oil? Oil that is located in one of the most fragile ecosystems we currently have left on our planet? Is that the suggestion being raised at the moment? Because I would like a vote, and I want to vote no!
I may not live in one of the blessed six countries that have claimed a stake on the region due to the luck of where continental shelves end, but I’m fairly certain there are longer term affects involved here that will affect us all!
Let’s be fair here; the Arctic oil wouldn’t simply replace what is being used at the moment, so we’d probably end up with a few more years if we just used it to supplement. Of course, Tom Doggett in his Reuters article notes that it would help reduce the “…U.S. reliance on imported crude in the future, if America developed the resources.” I don’t know where Doggett comes from, but what a close minded and ridiculously American egotistical approach to oil that has already been noted to possibly belong to six different nations.
Add to that repeated calls from environmental agencies noting that no single country had even come close to creating feasible clean up measures in the Arctic in the almost tangible likelihood that oil will spill, and you get just another in a handful of reasons why we should just leave the Arctic alone.
But I’m just one guy, living in Australia, a point on a map a long way away from the Arctic. What can I do huh? Well, I’m writing this, and I’ll continue to cover it, and hopefully, enough will mirror my actions that someone might just listen.
Yeah. Not bloody likely!