As the price of oil continues to drop, oil companies are having less of an incentive to spend their resources extracting oil from new and difficult places. For example, just this week it was announced that Norway’s Statoil has actually handed back three out of its four Greenland offshore oil and gas exploration licences, which means that they will no longer be drilling in the region.
“We have now completed the working programme and have no further obligations, and we don’t see any potential in taking on further obligations in these licences,” spokesman Knut Rostad said.
Statoil isn’t the only company pulling out of the region either, French utility GDF Suez also said recently that they will be handing back their Greenland licences as well, as did Denmark’s Dong Energy.
Luckily for the environment, oil findings have been surprisingly low in the area in recent years. Royal Dutch Shell has spent $6 billion over the past 8 years searching for oil off the coast of Alaska, only to come up empty handed. Additionally British oil company Cairn Energy Plc spent $1 billion exploring Greenland’s west coast in 2010 and 2011 without making any significant discoveries. OAO Gazprom has also closed down its Shtokman gas field in the Barents Sea because it no longer benefits them to keep it open.
With the arctic regions being some of the last places on earth that have not been destroyed by oil spills, many people are relieved that oil is not as plentiful in these areas as was initially expected.
Ashley Heppenstall, an executive with the Swedish company Lundin Petroleum said that future drilling in the area will depend upon how much oil is found.
“We believe it’s unrealistic that oil prices will stay at these levels forever. Ultimately, the viability of the Barents Sea will be driven by how much resources are actually found,” Heppenstall said.
Due to the harsh weather conditions, darkness, extreme cold and polar storms, the risk of an oil spill happening in the arctic is very high, so hopefully these projects are stopped dead in their tracks, as it seems they may be.
John Vibes writes for True Activist and is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war.