Posted on March 2, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Feds are seeking public comment on new rules for Arctic Sea drilling.
Major spill would devastate Arctic ecosystems
FRISCO — Proposed new Arctic drilling rules would require fossil fuel companies to have a spare drilling rig available in case they lose control of the primary well. The new rule is aimed at ensuring that companies operating in the Arctic are full prepared for the region’s extreme conditions.
As released in late February, the rules focus solely on offshore exploration drilling operations within the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea Planning Areas. The proposed rule is open for public comment through mid-April. Comment HERE. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, energy, Environment | Tagged: Arctic drilling, Arctic energy development, Beaufort Sea, BOEMRE, Chukchi Sea, Environment | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 23, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A federal court this week ruled that the Bureau of Energy Management violated environmental laws when it sold leases for fossil fuel production in the Chukchi Sea.
Judges say feds made ‘arbitrary and capricious’ decision on how much oil can be extracted
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — There’s no question that there is a lot of oil beneath the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, and the Chukchi Sea, specifically.
But exactly how much is a question that is still open to debate, according to a federal court, which this week ruled that the U.S. Department of Interior made an “arbitrary and capricious” decision when it sold drilling rights in the area back in 2008 based on an estimate of about 1 billion barrels of oil.
Federal officials may have pulled that number out of a hat, the three-hudge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, ordering the federal government to revise the environmental study for the 2008 lease sale. The court also said federal officials may have low-balled potential environmental impacts of fossil fuel development in the Chukchi Sea. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, energy, Environment, oil drilling | Tagged: Arctic, Chukchi Sea, offshore drilling | 1 Comment »
Posted on November 7, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
October Arctic sea ice has been declining at a rate of about 7.1 percent per decade during the satellite era.
Warm air temps due to open water inhibits ice growth in some areas
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Arctic sea ice expanded quickly in October, with coverage doubling from the record low level of mid-September. But because the ice dwindled to an all-time low level this summer, even the record rebound in October couldn’t boost the ice extent back into the average range, according to the latest update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
The average ice extent for October was 2.7 million square miles, the second lowest in the satellite record and about 89,000 square miles above the 2007 record low for October. The ice extent is about 884,000 square miles below the 1979 to 2000 average. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Arctic sea ice, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, climate, global warming, National Snow and Ice Data Center | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 19, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Shell delays Arctic oil drilling.
Critical containment gear damaged in final tests as drilling deadline looms
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — After a whirlwind summer of drilling, melting sea ice and failed safety tests, Shell Oil has backed of plans to tap into oil beneath the Chukchi Sea, at least for this year.
In a final setback, the company’s containment equipment was damaged, resulting in another delay that brought Shell too close to the Sept. 24 deadline for oil drilling.
“It is clear that some days will be required to repair and fully assess dome readiness. We are disappointed that the dome has not yet met our stringent acceptance standards; but, as we have said all along, we will not conduct any operation until we are satisfied that we are fully prepared to do it safely,” Shell said in a statement, adding that it plans to continue preparatory drilling. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, oil drilling | Tagged: Alaska, Arctic, Arctic oil drilling delayed, Chukchi Sea, Ken Salazar, Royal Dutch Shell, Shell Oil | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 6, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Government report shows cursory testing with no detailed engineering data
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Some observers are hoping for the best when it comes to Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling plans, because the company clearly is not prepared for the worst, at least when it comes to testing critical equipment needed to prevent massive blowouts like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
After dragging it’s feet for a while, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety & Environmental Enforcement finally released all the information it had on last summer’s testing of a well-head capping stack system.
All the information on that test was included on less than a single page of typed text.
“I was shocked,” said Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska professor who requested the testing report under the Freedom of Information Act. “I was expecting 50 or 70 pages … with pressure tests, detailed engineering info, graphs … it’s a critical piece of equipment in a blow-out,” said Steiner, an oil spill expert and board member of an environmental watchdog group. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, energy, Environment, oil drilling | Tagged: Arctic, Arctic drilling, BSSE, Chukchi Sea, Oil spill, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Royal Dutch Shell, Shell Oil | 1 Comment »
Posted on August 30, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Shell Oil has been permitted to start preparatory drilling in the Chukchi Sea.
Feds say there’s no risk of an oil spill at this stage, as oil company’s response ship still not certified
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal officials today gave Shell Oil the OK to start with some preparatory drilling activities in the Chukchi Sea despite the fact that the oil company’s spill response vessel, the Arctic Challenger, still isn’t certified.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the decision during a media conference call, saying that Shell’s preliminary drilling will be closely monitored by safety experts who will be on the rig 24 hours per day.
Salazar said the preparatory drilling is related to the installation of equipment designed to prevent spills. Since the activities permitted are not in an area where there is oil, there is no need to have the Arctic Challenger in place at this stage, he explained. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Alaska, Arctic Challenger, Arctic drilling permit, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Chukchi Sea, Chukchi Sea oil drilling, Shell Oil arctic drilling | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 19, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Greenpeace biologist John Hocevar shows a piece of raspberry coral from the seafloor of the Chukchi Sea near a proposed Shell drill site. To date, no form of corals are know to exist in the area. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is on an Arctic expedition to study unexplored ocean habitats threatened by offshore oil drilling, as well as industrial fishing fleets. Photo courtesy Jiri Rezac/Greenpeace.
Greenpeace biologists say they’ve found previously unknown coral species near planned Shell Oil drilling site
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Oil companies and the Obama administration are rushing to start Arctic Ocean oil drilling despite warnings from scientists that not enough is known about the region’s ecology to be able to thoroughly evaluate potential impacts.
The discovery of coldwater corals on the floor of the Chukchi Sea lends support to the idea that there are still to many unknowns to proceed with risky drilling operations.
Greenpeace submarine researchers recently collected specimens of a sea raspberry coral (Gersemia rubiformis) from an area where Shell plans to drill in the coming weeks.
Following the discovery, conservation groups called on the U.S. Department of the Interior to fully analyze the potential damage Shell’s Arctic drilling could have on those cold-water corals in the Chukchi Sea. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment, oil drilling | Tagged: Arctic Ocean, Arctic oil drilling, Chukchi Sea, Environment, Greenpeace, Shell Oil | Leave a comment »