Friday, September 14, 2012

Blog 3: Ice-Breaking: U.S. Oil Drilling Starts as Nations Mull Changed Arctic

     In recent weeks oil companies have started to drill in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. These two seas are located north and northwest of the Alaskan region. These regions are a part of the Arctic ocean connecting Alaska and Russia. Temperatures in the Arctic are warming four times faster than is national average. As the ice melts oil companies are gaining a more formidable environment to drill for oil. Climate change in this region has reduced the amount of ice and increased the temperatures. This environment was once untouchable because of the harsh and unstable climate. Peter E. Slaiby, vice president of Shell Alaska said "I will be one of those persons most cheering for an endless summer in Alaska,". Oil companies are looking to exploit the climate change to tap into the oil reserves of this region. Researchers have said that 22 percent of the world’s hydrocarbon deposits and more than 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could come from this area. New oil drilling rigs could bring a number of pollutants to the area, but Alaska in no stranger to oil pollution. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez hit a reef in Prince William Sound. 11 million US gallons of crude oil was spilled over 1,100 miles of coastline. Oil spills in the area could be intensified by mixing with the ice slush of the Arctic. Oil rigs in the Arctic are drilling in a new dangerous territory, so unexpected challenges could arise at any moment. The oil industries are already creating pollution in stable environments, such as the Gulf Coast. Having increased pressures from this harsh environment could prove to be disastrous.

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