Tag Archives: Arctic drilling

Shell folds in Arctic as Obama wins a big bet

Royal Dutch Shell announced Monday that it has abandoned its Arctic search for oil after failing to find enough crude to justify the cost of continued investment. Shell has spent about $7 billion on exploration in the waters off Alaska so far and said it could book losses of up to $4.1 billion for pulling out of the Chukchi Sea for the “foreseeable future”.

As we recently described at Preserve the Beartooth Front, Arctic drilling has been a bone of contention between environmentalists concerned about the substantial risks of drilling, and pro-drilling forces who argue that, because the Arctic Ocean contains 20% of the world’s undiscovered oil, Arctic reserves could replenish a diminishing supply from the Bakken and other US shale fields.

In August the US Department of the Interior issued a permit to Shell to drill an exploratory well into oil-bearing zones in the Arctic Ocean, contingent on the company meeting strict environmental standards.

You have to score this one as a major victory for Obama, who likely anticipated that Shell was not going to be able to justify continued drilling activity when the permits were granted. He took considerable criticism from environmental groups like Greenpeace, who charged, “We think it’s deeply hypocritical for a president who’s done so much for the climate, to see him do something that could undo that is a real tragedy.”

The President plays the long game, and he picks his battles carefully. He chose not to fight this one, but the ultimate outcome should satisfy his environmental critics without angering the oil and gas industry. Continue reading

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