In recent developments, Royal Dutch Shell is planning to park two massive Arctic oil drilling rigs in Seattle’s waterfront before they head north to Alaska — but the petrochemical giant will first have to get around protesters in kayaks and others who want to thwart the new frontier in oil exploration and spark a national debate about fossil fuels and climate change.

In brief, the Arctic offshore reserves are estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey to have 26 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 130 million cubic feet of natural gas. This amount according to Shell officials is said to increase domestic supply by over 1 million new barrels of oil per day. The reason for the opposition from conservation groups is that there is major concern about global warming and the impeding impact from the additional fossil fuel development Shell is about to embark on. They worry that industrial development and a catastrophic spill would ruin a fragile region far from emergency responders.

Shell received a positive feedback by state officials as they have welcomed the proposed exploratory drilling. Alaska hopes the federal government will share revenue and that Shell and other companies will transport crude through a pipeline system connected to the trans-Alaska pipeline. The company cleared a major hurdle recently when the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approved the company’s multiyear drilling plan. However, it still needs several approvals from state and federal agencies before it can drill. Shell also is awaiting a drilling permit from the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and authorizations related to wastewater discharge from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
Let’s keep a keen eye out for development in this area.

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