Shell is preparing to lead a new oil rush in the American north this summer despite spill risks
A new round of exploratory oil drilling is due to begin in the Arctic this July. Oil companies are no doubt dreaming of a northern oil rush, while environmentalists face nightmares of devastating spills.
The oil giant Shell has been granted permission by the US government to drill two exploratory wells in the Beaufort Sea and three in the Chukchi Sea, both north of Alaska, this year — between 15 July and late September. The project is finally coming to fruition after years spent fighting legal challenges. It will be the first oil-exploration programme to run in US Arctic waters since 2000, and could mark the start of the first offshore commercial drilling in the American north, although it would take another decade to establish production wells.
The US Geological Survey estimated in 2008 that the Arctic holds up to 90 billion barrels of oil — 13% of the world’s technically recoverable supply.
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