Search Results for Tag: Oil
No Arctic Council meeting for Greenpeace North Pole trekkers
A group of young campaigners have been trekking to the North Pole this week, as part of the Greenpeace campaign to “Save the Arctic“. There are 16 people in the group, including four international youth ambassadors : Hollywood actor Ezra Miller, two Arctic Indigenous representatives and a young man from the Seychelles . I was hoping to be able to report here on the Ice Blog that they had met with members of the Arctic Council who were also to visit the North Pole this week. But for reasons yet to become clear, the meeting didn’t happen.
One of the explorers, Josefina Skerk, a 26-year-old member of the Sami Parliament in Sweden, had sent a letter to Gustaf Lind, Swedish chair of the Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials, requesting a meeting with the Arctic officials, when they heard they would be at the North Pole at the same time. Mr. Lind apparently accepted the invitation, but the meeting did not take place. There is an amazing multimedia website for the project, where you can follow the expedition and find out about the trekkers and their motives: Into the Arctic. One of the girls says her hands are freezing but her blood is boiling because the meeting didn ‘t work out. But you can see and hear all that for yourselves on the site.
The activists say “no one nation should own the Arctic or be allowed to exploit the melting Arctic sea ice, a crisis created by climate change, for more of the fuels that caused the melt in the first place”. The trekkers are carrying with them a time capsule that contains a declaration with 2.7 million signatures calling for the Arctic to be made a global sanctuary. Greenpeace says they plan to lower the capsule and a ‘Flag for the Future’ through 4.3 km of freezing water to the seabed beneath the North Pole.
Some of those signatures were collected here in Bonn, as reported on the ice blog and DW radio and online pages at the time:
DateApril 11, 2013 | 4:01 pm
When the new Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Russia as his first official foreign destination last week, one of the agreements signed on the sidelines was a deal between the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Russia’s oil company Rosneft, which paves the way for more exploration in the Arctic. The BarentsObserver says the cooperation makes the Chinese concern Rosneft’s third foreign partner in the Barents Sea. The area in question is located to the west of the archipelago of Novaya Zemlya and to the northeast of Gazprom’s Shtokman field. The BarentsObserver says the most likely option is that CNCP will get a 33 percent stake in a joint venture and bear all costs for initial exploration and drilling. The area is one of the least explored areas on the Russian continental shelf. The hydrocarbon potential is believed to be considerable.
DateMarch 28, 2013 | 2:06 pm
Shell puts Arctic drilling on hold
Shell has said it will not drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic this year. The announcement was not surprising, as the company is facing official US investigations after a series of problems, culminating in the grounding of the Kulluk drilling ship in a storm late last year. The company announced earlier this month that its two Arctic offshore rigs would be going to Asia for repairs and upgrades. Critics say oil drilling in Arctic regions is too risky and there is not sufficient capacity to cope with an oil accident in the remote region with its extreme weather conditions and fragile ecosystem.
Environment campaigners welcomed the announcement. Reuters quotes Michael LeVine from Oceana in Juneau, Alaska, as saying both Shell and the government agencies regulating the company faced a “crisis of confidence”. He says the decisions to allow Shell to operate in the Arctic Ocean were premature. Phil Radford, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA issued a statement saying:
“Shell was supposed to be the best of the best, but the long list of mishaps and near-disasters is a clear indication even the ‘best’ companies can’t succeed in Arctic drilling. Secretary Salazar and President Obama gave drilling a chance; now the responsible decision is to make Arctic drilling off limits, forever.” Shell has collected more than 2.7 million signatures for their “Save the Arctic” campaign.
However, the announcement does not mark the end of Arctic drilling plans. ConocoPhillips reaffirmed on Wednesday that it would continue with its own plans to drill one or two exploration wells in the Chukchi Sea in 2014, and expected to submit more information on it to the federal regulator by the end of March. Marvin Odum, director of Shell Upstream Americas, stressed this was only a temporary break in his group’s Arctic activity: ”Our decision to pause in 2013 will give us time to ensure the readiness of all our equipment and people.”
DateFebruary 28, 2013 | 10:21 am
Greenpeace criticizes draft Arctic oil spill response agreement
The Arctic Council environment ministers will be meeting in Jukkasjärvi in Sweden over the next few days. One of the items on the agenda is a long-awaited agreement on dealing with oil accidents in the Arctic. A copy of the document has been leaked, and Greenpeace says it is “vague and inadequate”. “Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic” is the title of the paper, set to be adopted by the Council’s foreign ministers at their meeting in May. An oil spill in the Arctic would be very hard to tackle for various reasons, including remoteness, cold, ice, darkness and the fact that oil takes longer to break up in cold conditions. Remember the Exxon Valdez? If you are young enough not to, it was a tanker that went down in Prince William Sound in 1989, with devastating effects on the environment.. I visited the spot a couple of years ago, and there are still clumps of oil under stones on the beaches. And of course Shell is having its own problems with Arctic drilling at the moment.
Greenpeace is running an international campaign against oil drilling in the Arctic. Ben Ayliffe, head of the campaign, told the media: “This draft agreement does not inspire confidence in the ability of the Arctic Council to protect this fragile region when the worst happens. It’s incredibly vague, it fails to hold oil companies liable for the impact of their mistakes, and there is nothing here that ensures adequate capacity to deal with a spill in these nations”
I have been talking to a lot of experts on this over the last few years and most of them are convinced that a spill would happen sooner or later and would be extremely difficult to deal with. The risks to the fragile Arctic ecosystem would be enormous.
DateFebruary 4, 2013 | 4:05 pm
Green energy revolution in the Gulf?
“Everybody who’s anybody“in the world of renewables, climate and sustainability seems to be putting in an appearance here in the oil-rich emirate Abu Dhabi this week. Sustainability Week, as it’s dubbed, started off with a meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency IRENA, which has its headquarters here. The announcement that China is applying for full membership this year was one of the highlights of the top-level meeting.
Today, at the start of the World Future Energy Summit, I’ve heard top-level speakers including French premier Francois Hollande, German environment minister Peter Altmaier, EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegard and others addressing the international audience (3,000 delegates, 30,00 visitors expected by the organizers in the course of the week). Germany in particular comes off very well, with people talking about the “Energiewende”, or energy transformation in progress there and the rapid development of renewable energy.
But the really fascinating thing for me is the feeling that the Gulf states seem to be getting serious at last about getting into renewables. There’s a lot of international interest in their motives. Abu Dhabi’s wealth, for instance, is clearly based on oil revenue. There is no sign that that is about to change in the near future. Use renewables at home to sell more oil abroad? Well, there is that.
But there is a clear interest in diversification of the energy supply and, of course, the economy. This region doesn’t want to miss out on the global move towards securing energy, water and food security by getting into renewables, (especially solar, for obvious reasons). When it comes to emissions reductions, of course, there is still plenty of scope for debate, which is taking place here at the conferences on a regular basis, at all levels, from the stages to the coffee tables.
Sustainability is the buzzword this week – but is it just a buzzword?
Yesterday I visited Shams1, the world’s biggest single-unit CSP (concentrated solar power) plant, with a capacity of 100 MW, set to open very soon (although no-one was willing to confirm the actual date). It’s a huge project, with lines of mirrors as far as the eye can see. It could power 20,000 homes when it’s ready. Tomorrow, I’ll be having a look at Masdar city.
Qatar is also increasing its solar activities, as we’ve reported on DW recently. “Leading by example”, is how Hedegard described the Masdar initiative in her keynote.
But one of the most interesting issues today was a talk by Saudi Arabia’s deputy industry Minister Khalid al Sueiman about their targets for renewables. 30% of electricity generation by 2032 certainly sounds like a move in the right direction. So is the country once known as a key blocker of climate agreements and emissions reduction commitments turning over a new leaf? The motivation, the minister says, is to make the oil go further. The international media were pushing hard for more information from the Saudi expert. “We need encouragement, don’t push us too hard”, was an unofficial comment I heard from one of his aides.
I talked to Professor Jeffrey Sachs, renowned expert from the Earth Institute, Columbia University in the USA about this. He was giving a keynote speech here and launching the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (too hard to define right now).
He says he really does have the feeling positive things are happening here in the Gulf region.
The mega energy-event is sponsored by Exxon Mobile, incidentally. Oil companies preparing to shift to renewables? “I’ll believe it when I see it”, says Professor Sachs. But more on all that later. Things are certainly moving.
DateJanuary 15, 2013 | 2:08 pm