While Royal Dutch Shell waits to hear from the US government on whether it will be permitted to drill in Alaska next year, environmentalists are stepping up their campaign for a “no” vote.
The Pew Environment Group is the latest to speak out against drilling in the arctic. It has released the most comprehensive analysis done on the challenges to preventing and containing spills in the area. Highlights include noting that darkness, extreme weather and shifting sea ice could delay efforts to stop an oil blowout in the US Arctic Ocean for six months or more.
As if there were not enough gas in the US.
The US Geological Survey has discovered that much of what it thought was oil in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is actually gas. It says in a new report that new estimates are for 896m barrels of conventional, undiscovered oil and 53 trillion cubic feet of conventional, undiscovered, non-associated gas within the reserve and adjacent state waters.
This compares with estimates made in 2002 of 10.6bn barrels of oil. The new estimate, roughly 10 per cent of the 2002 estimate, is due primarily to new data from recent exploration drilling that revealed gas rather than oil in much of the reserve. Nonetheless, the new assessment also indicates 8 trillion cubic feet less gas than the 2002 estimate of 61 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, conventional, non-associated gas. Non-associated means there is little to no crude oil in the reservoir.
Yet that is still a surfeit of gas and, as such, is just one more reason why the US should take advantage of its broad gas reserves by offering government incentives to build an energy infrastructure to use its gas.