Fighting a Shell Game in the Arctic
Posted on Jan 24, 2010
A legal challenge by environmental and indigenous Alaskan groups may dampen Shell Oil’s chances of drilling for billions of barrels of oil in the U.S. portion of the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea. It’s feared the controversial plan could spell disaster for endangered species as well as increase global warming. —JCL
Royal Dutch Shell’s controversial plans to drill for billions of barrels of oil in the Arctic’s environmentally sensitive frozen waters face a potentially damaging legal challenge.
An alliance of conservation and Alaskan indigenous groups has filed a legal claim to prevent Shell drilling for oil this year in the Arctic Ocean’s Chukchi Sea. Two years ago, Shell paid $2.1bn (£1.3bn) to the US government for 275 oil leases there.
The legal claim accuses the US’s minerals management service, part of the federal interior department, of waving through permission to allow Shell to drill wells on the basis of an “abbreviated and internal review” of the environmental dangers of exploration.
The US portion of the Chukchi Sea, which separates north-western Alaska from north-eastern Siberia, is believed to hold 15bn barrels of recoverable oil and 76tn cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, according to the interior department.
Flickr / B69D
The legal claim accuses government regulators under the Bush administration of skimping on assessing the environmental dangers of oil drilling in the Chukchi Sea.