Oil companies are pushing Congress and regulatory agencies to allow for more offshore drilling in the Artic. Shell Oil is looking to drill five new wells off the coast of Alaska where reserves are getting easier to obtain due to melting ice. It seems opinions are split, some are calling drilling in the Artic a great entrepreneurial move, others believe that it would only be the beginning of another oil disaster. The U.S. Coast Guard’s top official has come forward and stated that the organization is not prepared for a major oil spill in the Arctic.
US Coast Guard Admiral Pap said, “If this were to happen off the North Slope of Alaska, we’d have nothing. We’re starting from ground zero today…. We have zero to operate with at present.” In the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the US Coast Guard felt as if they were adequately ready to respond to the spill, and was able to pull resources at a rapid response due to the severity of the spill, but still five million barrels of oil leaked over only eightysix days.
However, oil investors believe that if a spill were to happen, the company could privately handle the situation and do not see the threat of a spill as means to not consider the Artic for drilling. The Wall Street journal published an article stating that “savvy investors” will swoop in on the drilling deal meanwhile the U.S has fallen asleep with their garage door open, leaving some of the world’s largest oil, gas and mineral sources to be developed by other countries instead of taking advantage of all the Artic has to offer.
Those opposed to the drilling in the Artic believe that once the Tundra melts, another oil disaster will be inevitable. While investors begin to drill and use all of the natural mineral sources in the Artic, ice will continue melt, and the climate change will be enough to throw the environment into a disaster than not even the Coast Guard will be able to help contain. The private oil industry continues to assert that they are prepared to respond to a spill, stating that if they didn’t think this was a project they could take on, they simply wouldn’t venture into the Artic for drilling.
The debate is currently at a deadlock as drilling will not be allowed until the private oil industry creates a plan for responding to oil spills and other potential risks that will be approved by US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. Despite their qualms, the Coast Guard has agreed to work with these private oil industries to ensure the plans measure up.
Photo Credit: Deepwater Horizon Response