“Arctic melt opens door for big oil’s next boom”
In these Alaskan waters of the High North, sea ice has melted at a record pace this summer, shattering a record set in 2007 and marking the greatest Arctic melt since scientists began monitoring it by satellite in 1979. Some scientists calculate it is the greatest melt in the history of humankind, and there is little disagreement that it poses a perilous development for the planet.
For Royal Dutch Shell and other oil companies, this melt is serving to open up the once ice-locked waterways that big oil will need to set up drilling platforms and staging areas to pull the crude and natural gas up from beneath the ocean’s floor.
Shell spent four grueling years wrestling with federal bureaucracy and state politics and it sunk $4.5 billion to secure offshore lease holds over what geologists believe is a motherlode of crude in the rush for oil and minerals that is well underway here at the top of the world.
The historic melt has opened a battle that has the eight nations of the Arctic Circle — the US, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Finland — all jostling for power and influence in the Arctic over what investment bankers view as the world’s last, great emerging economy.
There’s not just oil and natural gas, but also minerals including platinum, zinc, nickel and gold. There is the precious commodity of fresh drinking water. At stake are potentially trillions of dollars in profits. Also at stake are geo-political security in a time of diminishing resources, a delicate ecosystem that is crucial in cooling the planet and the traditional way of life for a native people who have everything to lose, and much to gain.
“We’re worried. This is our home and these waters are our fields where we harvest our food. This isn’t just a staging area for Shell, this is our home, and it is all about to change,” says Patkotak.
Just seeing the commercial exploitation in global communities that have a wealth of natural resources and not much else in the way of sustaining their way of life is only telling that the outcome will not be positive for the residents in the Arctic region.
Even in our ‘developed’ country, BP has not been proactive in helping to restore the Gulf of Mexico after the disaster there 2 years ago hoping instead that time will help to fade any memories away. The fact of the matter is that there are still remnants of oil in marshes and countless families who had to adopt new sources of income when their small, family businesses ended up failing.
These large companies have invested very little in any technology to clean up after themselves only to assume that nature will do the job.
It’s even more disconcerting when the ‘leader of the free world’ has a role in allowing this to happen.