Many environmental groups are concerned over a possible extension of drilling expeditions in the Arctic, as oil companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, are set to begin drilling in the region as early as this week.
Shell is planning to open three exploratory wells in Alaska: One in the Chukchi Sea off the state’s northwestern coast, and two in the Beaufort Sea off the northern coast, after delays in production caused by a myriad of factors, including warm weather and production lapses.
An extension of a drilling window would allow the company to drill in the Arctic past the previously agreed-upon deadline of Sep. 24 in the Chukchi Sea, and the end of October in the Beaufort Sea.
Some environmental activists, however, say that the extension of the drilling window is no more than an attempt to make up for lost time.
“It would be really disturbing attempt to move the goal posts,” Travis Nichols, a media officer at Greenpeace, said to IPS. “They haven’t been able to get their fleet in order. They want to change the rules to get the administration to cater to their needs.”
The Shell project in the Arctic, originally slated to start this month, has faced numerous setbacks in its operations.
In June, a Shell drilling-rig, named the Noble Discoverer, did not meet Environmental Protection Agency emission standards, because its generator engines contained higher-than-allowed amounts of nitrous oxide and ammonia.
Earlier this month, the ship, anchored in Alaska’s Dutch Harbor, drifted off its moorings and came within 100 feet of reaching the shore.
“They clearly cannot ensure safety in the Arctic,” Dan Howells, deputy campaigns director at Greenpeace, said in a statement. According to Howells, by extending the drilling window, it “is inviting major catastrophe in one of the ...