Shell is one of six energy companies hoping to begin drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic next month. Global warming has led to large amounts of ice melting, which in turn has opened up new areas off Alaska’s north coast, ready for oil and gas exploration.
Since 2005 Shell has spent $4.5 billion preparing for its upcoming Arctic adventure, but it now turns out that US citizens may be required to fork out nearly as much in order to control and regulate oil company operations in the Arctic.
The Coast Guard will need to follow the companies exploring in the Alaskan waters, in order to defend US interests, carry out sea rescues when needed, and organise responses to oil spills. The problem is that the Coast Guard is not equipped for Arctic operations. According to a joint report by the Congressional Research Team and the Coast Guard, it lacks the necessary communication and navigation systems, and will need at least $3 billion invested in new vessels and equipment, if it hopes to function effectively within the cold, rough seas of the Arctic circle.
Admiral Robert Papp, the Coast Guard commandant, said in an interview with Bloomberg, that “the Coast Guard has zero capability in the Arctic. If we are going to have a permanent presence there, it’s going to require some investment. We don’t have the infrastructure in place right now.”
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com