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The Future of Arctic Drilling

There’s a world of oil up in the Arctic waters off Alaska. But a drilling rig run aground has revived fears about the price we may pay to tap it.

This image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows the Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig Kulluk aground off a small island near Kodiak Island Tuesday Jan. 1, 2013. (AP/Coast Guard)

This image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows the Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig Kulluk aground off a small island near Kodiak Island Tuesday Jan. 1, 2013. (AP/Coast Guard)

While you were snug in your bed last night, a giant Shell Oil drilling rig was being slammed and battered against the frigid rocky shore of a icy island in the Gulf of Alaska.  The big rig broke loose from its tug last week on its way south from the Arctic for winter repairs.

Howling winds – 70 knots.  Fifty foot waves.  And off she went.  A $300-million drilling rig, tons of steel, on the loose.  No spill yet.  But big questions again about our capacity to drill safely in the extreme conditions of the far, far North.

This hour, On Point:  a mighty rig on the loose, and fresh questions over Arctic drilling for oil.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Richard Mauer, reporter for the Anchorage Daily News

Curtis Smith, Shell Alaska spokesman.

John Sullivan, senior reporter for Energy Intelligence.

Jerry Beilinson, deputy editor for Popular Mechanics.

Lois Epstein, Arctic program director for the Wilderness Society.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Anchorage Daily News The weather improved a bit in the vicinity of the grounded Shell drilling rig Kulluk Wednesday morning, allowing a Coast Guard helicopter to drop a team of salvage experts to its deck to inspect the crippled vessel. The five experts — the incident command originally said in a prepared statement there were six — spent 3 hours on rig assessing its damage and getting information for a salvage operation that could still be days or weeks away.

The Los Angeles Times “Days of efforts trying to guide a mobile offshore drilling rig through stormy Alaska seas hit a crisis Monday night when crew members were forced to disconnect the rig from its last remaining tow line and the vessel went aground on a small island south of Kodiak.”

The Huffington Post “I couldn’t help but wonder this week as Coast Guard crews braved Alaska’s dangerous seas to regain control of Shell’s drilling rig and evacuate its crew: Why is our federal government bending over backwards to let Shell drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean?”

Alaska Dispatch “As Shell Oil geared up to drill a planned five offshore wells in the Arctic in 2012, opposition was still fighting fiercely early in the year against the proposed oil exploration, launching lawsuits and legal challenges of the company’s federal permits. Those legal challenges failed, however, and Shell moved forward with its plans in the summer, only to have equipment permit issues as well as late sea ice slow its plans significantly”

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  • Jasoturner

    Drilling in the Arctic.  What could possibly go wrong?

    • Gregg Smith

      We have the National Environmental Policy Act that should give proper oversight for such an endeavor.

      • Jasoturner

        Then my sentiment X 2!!

      • adks12020

        Key word “should”…”should give” and “gives” are two very different things.

        • Gregg Smith

          Point well taken. Obama gave BP a “Categorical Exclusion” from the NEPA. Maybe that was the mistake. That Obama was the largest recipient of BP’s campaign donations is probably irrelevant.

          • Ray in VT

            “While the MMS assessed the environmental impact of drilling in the
            central and western Gulf of Mexico on three occasions in 2007 —
            including a specific evaluation of BP’s Lease 206 at Deepwater Horizon — in each case it played down the prospect of a major blowout.

            In one assessment,
            the agency estimated that “a large oil spill” from a platform would not
            exceed a total of 1,500 barrels and that a “deepwater spill,” occurring
            “offshore of the inner Continental shelf,” would not reach the coast.
            In another assessment,
            it defined the most likely large spill as totaling 4,600 barrels and
            forecast that it would largely dissipate within 10 days and would be
            unlikely to make landfall.”

            From the same article cited above.  Is that also the result of BP donating to Obama, or perhaps due to the cozy relationships developed between officials at the MMS under two oil men at the top of the government?

          • Gregg Smith

            Also from your link: “They never did an analysis that took into account what turns out to be the very real possibility of a serious spill”. 

            They left it up to BP.

          • sickofthechit

             Under Bush!

          • Gregg Smith

            It was Obama that gave them the exclusion. It was Obama that left it up to BP.

          • Ray in VT

            You mean that the government should have been looking over the shoulder of the company and not left it up to private industry?

            From just later in that article:

            “But Interior Department spokesman Matt Lee-Ashley said the service
            grants between 250 and 400 waivers a year for Gulf of Mexico projects.
            He added that Interior has now established the “first ever” board to
            examine safety procedures for offshore drilling.”

          • Gregg Smith

            Certainly they should have been looking over the backs of BP. Absolutely. Sarah Palin was absolutely right, oil companies cannot be trusted.

          • Ray in VT

            So this is an instance when “the best way to unlock our productive resources and turn our visionaries loose is for government to get out of the way”?  Would you say that the same is true for things in the financial sector like Credit Default Swaps and other “innovative” products?

          • Gregg Smith

            Noone advocates no regulation. Gettingout of the way means let  them drill but with oversight.

      • sickofthechit

         Worked real well in the gulf!

        • Gregg Smith

          Obama exempted them.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Did the industry learn nothing from the Deepwater Horizon?

    This is not the first time that the deployment of a drilling rig has gone awry due to compressed schedule which puts the lives of workers and the health of the ocean at risk. What looming crisis dictates such urgent development and high risk?

    Someone explain to me why such patently stupid executive decisions warrant stratospheric salaries. Perhaps if they weren’t paid so much, they’d value their jobs more and behave more responsibly by exercising more  conservative decision making.

    Perhaps if we had real accountability, these captains of industry wouldn’t play so fast and loose with other people’s money. Events like this truly warrant Congressional outcry.

    • Gregg Smith

      So true, an environmental impact study would have most likely prevented the BP spill but Obama exempted them.

      • Ray in VT

        “after three reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was unlikely.”

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/04/AR2010050404118.html

        There were reviews of the area, so I don’t think that it is a valid argument that that exemption in any way led to the spill.  Now, tighter regulation of the techniques and equipment might have, but what was the authority of the U.S. given that the Deep Water Horizon was registered in the Marshall Islands?  I don’t know.

        • Gregg Smith

          There is a huge red line between assessment and oversight. BP was left to it’s own devices and cut corners everywhere. No one bothered to check. Had they not been excluded fro NEPA they could not have cut those corners. 

          • Ray in VT

            I don’t think that that is clear.  Were there not issues with the cement casing that was used (I think by Halliburton)?  I think that there were a series of failures, including MMS being too close to the energy companies, but I’m not sure that the exemption directly led to the explosion.  Certainly a more robust and independent regulatory structure and agency could have minimized the risk, although accidents will always happen.  I think that there are inherently more risks in drilling these sorts of wells miles underwater.

          • Gregg Smith

            One reason the drilling is miles underwater is because of regulations. 

            There were corners cut which caused the series of failures. There was no oversight. The exemption did not lead to the spill, it failed to prevent it. It didn’t even try. They found 6 or 7 direct violations but that was after the fact. NEPA was designed to catch the problems before the fact with inspections that never happened. Obama even gave them an award as I recall.

          • Ray in VT

            Was that the George Tenet Award for Excellence in Job Performance?

            There’s certainly plenty of room here to criticize the Obama administration for failing to crack down on the practices that flourished under the Bush administration described here:

            “the disaster in the Gulf was preceded by ample warnings – yet the
            administration had ignored them. Instead of cracking down on MMS, as he
            had vowed to do even before taking office, Obama left in place many of
            the top officials who oversaw the agency’s culture of corruption. He
            permitted it to rubber-stamp dangerous drilling operations by BP – a
            firm with the worst safety record of any oil company – with virtually no
            environmental safeguards, using industry-friendly regulations drafted
            during the Bush years.”

            I’m not happy with many things that the present administration has done, but I think that it’s better than the previous one.  The present one could, and should, certainly have moved faster to correct some of these issues upon taking office.

            It’s a good thing, though, that in the wake of the BP disaster that the administration took steps to prevent other accidents by putting a hold on new leases and Interior established a first ever board to look at safety procedures.  Surely no one could criticize such prudent moves.

  • Gregg Smith

    Oil is a proven energy source. It’s a no brainer to drill for more. But let’s stop throwing money down the wind rat hole.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324481204578179373031924936.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    • margbi

       And what will we do when the oil runs out? Maybe not in your or my lifetime but eventually it will. Or at least the easy to acquire oil will. Do we plan to rip up the earth completely? I’d say we’ve beaten it up pretty badly already.

      • Gregg Smith

        No one knows how much oil is down there. Natural Gas is abundant as well.Hopefully if it runs out in a century or two we’ll have the technology to move on. We must protect our environment and I do not advocate otherwise.

        • margbi

          I don’t doubt your sincerity in protecting the environment but I do question the idea that “hopefully” we will have the “right” technology to extract fuel from the earth. I don’t think hope is a solution. it is just hope that everything will turn out all right. 

          • Gregg Smith

            Good point but I meant hopefully there would be other technologies to take it’s place. Maybe wind and solar will be viable by then. Right now those technologies are more hope than reality. Oil is the fuel that runs the world, that’s the reality.

          • iccheap

            runs the world in the framework we currently have.  maybe it’s time to change that approach. 

            my home is >50% powered by solar.  You are right that it won’t scale up to power our current lifestyle, but it gets us moving in the right direction.  we need new approaches to living and I believe the recent push for hyperlocalism is a good start.

          • Gregg Smith

            I agree. I think solar is great in the proper context. It’s good for hot water. We use solar power fence chargers on our pastures. I love those little solar powered lights. I think it can help on a localized level but it’s not yet capable of powering the grid.

            I also like hydro. There are many dams built in the 20′s and 30′s that are now dormant and waiting to be brought back online.

          • iccheap

            Although I don’t have thermal solar (I have geothermal) it is a fantastic return on your investment – completely agree.

            For existing dams I agree with you too.  I am not a fan of establishing new dams for hydro – too much ecological impact.

          • Gregg Smith

            This one can be had for $10.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BM7ggUmvT9w

          • margbi

             Good point about the reality of the fuel which runs the world. I just think we should be more aware of the environmental issues which accompany any use of the resources of the world. Yes, even solar and wind.

      • Flytrap

         And what are we going to do when the Sun turns into a red giant?  When oil is too costly to extract, we’ll use something else.  Technological advances keep making extraction cheaper and cleaner. 

      • Jasoturner

        I think the oil fairies come by at night and restock the wells.  Maybe they pull the combusted carbon out of the atmosphere, too…

  • 1Brett1

    It’s interesting how so utterly anti-government libertarians say they are, yet so absolutely bureaucratic they become when environmental and business interests collide. I suppose there is nothing to worry about, and laws, practices, and some periodic oversight are all that are needed to continue business as usual. This sort of thinking actually sounds like every bureaucratic structure I’ve ever worked for and it epitomizes mediocrity. I guess if bureaucratic thinking isn’t “government” then it’s okay.

    • Flytrap

       Give an example instead of the straw man you are bandying about.

  • Roy-in-Boise

    “Drill, baby drill!” is like the Grasshopper talking to the Ants. What happens when the oil is gone?

    FYI: When the cost ratio of drilling and pumping reaches 1 barrel spent per 8 recovered a well is economically dry. Hydraulic fracturing is a remedial treatment that has helped to keep these numbers inline. However, a well can be “fracked” just so many times.

    • Flytrap

       And when it doesn’t make economic sense, the well will be abandoned.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        That’s awful short-sighted and trusting.

        I don’t trust oil cos to keep abandoned wells from spewing crap into my water. There’s no reason to.

        • Flytrap

           We have civil courts for that.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Written like a man who has absolutely nothing at stake.

            Let me pour my used oil into your well, then see what happens.

          • Flytrap

             So, tell us about the oil rigs near your property.  Is the truck traffic bad?

      • anamaria23

        Economic sense for who?  It costs double to heat a home with oil vs gas,  I see more and more people converting to gas heat.
        Due the  obvious disadvantages still present in cars like Toyota Prius,  I won’t use the 50% upsurge in sales as an indicator of the move away from gasoline.  

        • Flytrap

           For the company, shareholder’s etc.  The cost isn’t double right now, depends on heater’s efficiency.  Oil has more potential energy, so you can’t just do a straight line comparison.  The other day, an HVAC guy told me oil was about 1.3 to 1.5 times as expensive as gas when everything is equaled out.  If a gas line is disrupted, you have no heat, you store your own oil.  There is a value in that security, is it worth 1.5 times gas, I don’t know.

          • anamaria23

            There are sources that dispute your numbers including the EIA.
            Most new home construction in my area is using gas.

  • ewetopia

    A must-read on this issue: the recent article in the New Yorker (last issue of 2012) by Keith Gessen – he traveled on a boat that made its way through the Arctic seas above Russia. For miles, the only other boat they came across was an Exxon Mobil rig, searching for oil. A sobering look at what is happening up there.

    • Flytrap

       Why is that “A sobering look at what is happening up there.” ?  I don’t get it.

      • nj_v2

        ^ Troll

        • StilllHere

          Projection. Transference. Seek professional help.

          • nj_v2

            I rest my case.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    So – what is it that makes going to these extremes more economically viable than cranking out solar cells and windmills in a factory?

    And who gets the bill for this exercise?

    • Gregg Smith

      It’s the fact that with the exception of nukes there isn’t anything that comes even close to competing with the dollar to ERG ratio of oil.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

        True – especially when you get subsidies and can externalize a sizable portion of the costs.

        • Gregg Smith

          It’s nothing compared to Solar and Wind subsidies.

          • StilllHere

            or ethanol.

  • StilllHere

    How much oil has been spilled?

  • nj_v2

    So pervasive is our reliance on ancient carbon, it appears that we will continue to resort to desperate, heroic measures to extract the stuff from increasingly remote, difficult sources—Arctic and deepwater drilling, squeezing tar out of sand…

    The real problem will come when the costs (economic and energy) begin their irreversible and inexorable rise, as they inevitably will, likely in the next few decades.

    Hopes for magical, technical fixes are largely misplaced and prevent us from making the broader structural changes that we can either choose to make and plan for or which will be forced upon us when fossil fuel becomes too expensive to power the infrastructure that is dependent on it.

    • StilllHere

      ^ pathetic troll

      • nj_v2

        Projection. Transference. Seek professional help.

        • StilllHere

          I rest my case.

    • Flytrap

       Yeah, we’ll never get LED lights, more efficient cars, more efficient heaters, appliances etc. 

  • iccheap

    The grounding of the drilling platform is one small part of the negative externatilities that we fail to account for in the prices we pay for petroleum products.  THis shortsighted approach leaves many believing alternative energy strategies (and associated subsidies) are too “expensive”.  Unfortunately, the true cost of our fossil fuel demand/usage is much higher than we clearly understand.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      “Privatize the profits, socialize the costs.*”

      Our media is ever ready to handwave away the kajillions we’ve spent on extractive energy and complain that renewables aren’t paying their way right this second.

      And we’re not even talking about conservation, simply because “getting X work done” with less electricity or solid or liquid or gaseous fuel doesn’t have a lobbyist inside the Beltway. I mean, there’s the Pink Panther insulation bit, but that’s about it.

      (*Feel free to steal that from me the way I’ve stolen it from elsewhere.)

      • Flytrap

        Yeah, we’ll never get LED lights, more efficient cars, more efficient heaters, appliances etc.   We aren’t talking about efficiency, we’re doing it. 

    • Flytrap

       Can you give us some idea of what we don’t understand? 

      • Ray in VT

        Well, for instance, oil spills and the resulting costs, air pollution and the long term health effects for starters.

        • Flytrap

           We understand those quite well. 

          • Ray in VT

            Then why have we allowed industry to write some of the rules and tried to exempt power plants from clean air standards?  Some may well understand them, but many are willing to do little to address them.

          • Flytrap

             Misplaced rant, my point is that we do understand the problems and to say that we don’t and imply some possible unknown lurking evil is irrational bordering on the religious. 

          • Ray in VT

            I don’t think that my statement was either misplaced or a rant.  I do think that we may currently fail to fully understand the impacts of some of our actions, and many, for the sake of profit or convenience, would choose to ignore those none dangers anyways, especially if the effects happen to people far away from them.

  • Wahoo_wa

    Instead of running away from these issues, and presenting a wholesale “let’s abandon the whole thing” wouldn’t a more enlightened approach be to promote innovating the approach to drilling to make it more safe for people and the environment while also exploring alternative energy sources.  I am so exhausted by On Point’s doomsday scenarios and extreme viewpoints.  Tom could you at least TRY to be more balanced in the new year.

  • BlueNH

    Tom, How much money is being spent by oil and gas companies to drill up in the Arctic? What if that money was invested in clean alternative energy sources? We would have a win-win world.

    • Gregg Smith

      We have been investing out the wazoo on solar and wind. It’s mostly money down a rat hole. 

      • nj_v2

        And Greggg continues to pull comments out of his wazoo.

        2002–2008: Total fossil fuel subsidies: $72 billion. Total renewable energy subsidies: $29 billion and half of that went to ethanol.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Now NJ, why should I believe your numbers when I can turn on the Evening News and be told “Everybody knows” just what Greggg said?

        • Gregg Smith

          Why stop at 2008? What happened under Obama? 

          When you say “subsidies” do you mean we sent them a check and they didn’t pay us back as happened with the solar and wind industries? Or do you mean a tax break where no money changed hands?

          • nj_v2

            Though i disagree with some of the specific tactics, Obama has advocated for more subsidies for renewables. 21$ billion in 2009. Shifts the ratio of fossil fuel subsidies to renewables, but still the externalized costs of fossil fuels are not accounted for, so we all end up paying for it.

            We’d be better off by just taxing carbon, eliminating all subsidies, and actually letting the market work things out from there.

            Subsidies for fossil fuels include investment in research and development, direct payments and preferential loans, lease deals on public lands, in addition to tax breaks.It’s stupid to imply that that these subsidies are no less important because “no money changed hands.”

          • Gregg Smith

            Well, call me stupid but I think money has to be exchanged to be spent. But thanks for at least acknowledging my point.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    A big point of Arctic drilling – with the spill in the Gulf, there was a huge amount of local infrastructure that could be brought to bear on the problem. Up in the Arctic, there’s nothing. Oil spill there it could be days or weeks before the necessary equipment could be brought up to deal with it, if it all depending on weather or time of year.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Speaking of infrastructure, I’m curious how much the Coasties are working hand-in-glove on this, and if it’s part of the monies we’re subsidizing extractive energy with.

  • sickofthechit

    I don’t know if it is their greed, over-sized egos, or self-delusionment that is the most dangerous ingredient here.  Good-bye pristine Artic Wilderness.  Tom, did you enjoy your last look?  Charles A. Bowsher

    • StilllHere

      cue violins …

  • http://www.facebook.com/kimberly.w.findlay Kimberly Wrede Findlay

    Anyone over the age of 21 knows that life is all about the inexplicable. You expect the unexpected. Why are Shell Oil and others in the oil biz any different, especially when the potential losses to wildlife and the environment are so great?

  • sickofthechit

    Is the Shell guy you had on the same rube who two days ago was saying that this was not a “drilling related incident”?  He disqualified himself with that whopper!

    • StilllHere

      Why was it drilling at the time?

      • Ray in VT

        If there is a problem with a drilling rig, in this case one that is in transit from drilling, is it not a “drilling related incident” unless it is actually drilling at the time of the incident?

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Also, if a man’s wife catches him in the washroom when the undressed au pair is in the adjactent bedroom, it doesn’t count as a “fornication related incident”.

  • Liz VanDenzen

    Shell claims that the issues it encountered this year are “inexplicable.”  They weren’t “inexplicable”- they were incompetent.  Deadliest Catch is one of the most popular reality TV programs on television.  If anyone has ever watched, they would know that storms in the Gulf of Alaska are extreme, yet Shell dragged their drill rig that can’t operate on its own out into the Gulf of Alaska.  And now they seem dumbfounded that the ship has run aground on a remote island.

  • sickofthechit

    “Emergency containment vehicle”?  Can it contain more than one well at a time?  Or, do they have one for each well? Fat Chance!

  • bfryer

    This is such a depressing conversation. I really hope that drilling in the Arctic becomes so expensive and difficult that the oil companies fail. We cannot afford to let the planet die because of our greed for oil. 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Addendum: That’s the pisser: When we get further along to running out of oil, and its price goes up, that Arctic oil will become more “feasible” to invest in getting.

      (And when you say “let the planet die”, I know the planet will survive us, but I’m with you in not wanting to proverbially saw off the branch that mankind is sitting on.)

  • BlueNH

    What kind of disaster will it be when a giant tanker spills bitumen from the Alberta tar sands along the coast? Devastation!

    http://www.ted.com/talks/garth_lenz_images_of_beauty_and_devastation.html

  • sickofthechit

    Why don’t we just tell them to wait until the icecaps melt and they can have year round access?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      I call dibs on the waterski tour concession from Point Barrow!

    • Mike_Card

      I can see it now:  Honeymoon cruises to the beautiful Beaufort Sheraton!

  • sickofthechit

    This type activity requires perfection.  They need to get it out of their heads that they are gods.

  • pwparsons

    So, effectively, between polluting our water supplies/aquifers in oder to “extract” yet another carbon/fossil energy resource that will ultimately add to the earth warming and carbon diox-tox-ification of the atmosphere, haven’t we created a perfect, suicidal, “double bind”. How much more time can we reckon on ’til the Mayans say we told you so?

  • BlueNH

    Americans waste 50% of the energy produced in this country. How about we start with energy conservation? The federal government needs a wartime-like campaign to get households and businesses to reduce energy by 50%. It can be done!

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Like I said, there’s no lobby in it.

      I’d love to see a representative subset of about 20 Beltway denizens on a lifeboat, floating somewhere in the South Pacific. And one 5-gallon can of fresh water.

    • nj_v2

      Conservation—in its many forms—offers the quickest payback, most cost-efficient, best EROEI source of energy in the short term. 

      No profit for the huge energy companies, though, so it will continue to go begging. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Another “risk” these companies are taking is with US tax revenues. All the effort, equipment, clean up costs, court costs, etc. that oil companies write off are tax dollars not going to Washington.

  • http://www.facebook.com/markhgiese Mark Giese

    What about the other countries that are claiming mining rights?  I’ll bet the Russians are way less concerned about environmental damage from these operations.

    • sickofthechit

       That is why it behooves us to go full bore towards alternative and renewable technologies.  If we are successful with them, then the rest of the world can adopt them more quickly.

      If instead we adopt the attitude, “They are burning dirty fossil fuels and fouling the environment, why should I be careful?” where does that get us? charles a. bowsher

  • CJ12345

    C02 is approaching 400ppm in the atmosphere, way above the long term of about 270ppm, and well past Hansen’s upper tolerable level of 350ppm.  We can’t afford to emit even one more gram of CO2. And it’s just one of the greenhouse gasses. 

    The greatest danger of drilling for oil in the Arctic is not failure, resulting in oil spewing all over the place, but rather successful drilling: perfect exploration, perfect transportation, perfect refining, and perfect combustion. It’s perfectly foolish.

  • http://www.facebook.com/toby.hoffman Toby Hoffman

    WHO made the decision to go in inclement months?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

      Someone sitting in an office looking at balance sheets and schedules?

  • jalabee

    Everyone keeps giving the nod to Shell’s safety record but I’ve read reports in the NY Times that Royal Dutch Shell is responsible for some very large skills year 2008 in Nigeria, town of Bodo in the Niger Delta.  These spills have never been cleaned up!  Whait’s the story – isn’t this the same company? 

    • Liz VanDenzen

      Yes, Shell Oil has a poor record in many different parts of the world.  You can read more about it in this report: http://www.alaskawild.org/shell/

  • http://www.facebook.com/toby.hoffman Toby Hoffman

    Thorium is the answer.

    • nj_v2

      There are no silver bullets. There is no one “answer.”

      Show us the working prototype.

      • Ray in VT

        I’m just going to use my Mr. Fusion.  That, and my hoverboard, will be ready by 2015.

      • Steve__T

         Yes there is but the Oil Co’s have been doing everything they can to prevent it from happening for years. Hydrogen. You don’t have to dig for it look for it etc. Water is 1/3 of the planet. and cleaner than Oil like day light  is to night.

        http://www.americanenergyindependence.com/hydrogen.aspx

  • nj_v2

    Mr Ashbrook quickly tossed out some figures re estimated oil and gas reserves in the Arctic. I heard “90 billion gallons” of oil, although i suspect he meant 90 billion barrels. Along with the natural gas amounts—which went by too fast, i didn’t get the numbers down—he characterized those amounts as “gigantic.”

    This is at best meaningless and at worst borderline mendacious.

    Gigantic compared to what?

    Current (2010) world petroleum consumption (EIA figures) is about 32 billion barrels per year.

    Okay, so if the tossed-out figure of 90 billion barrels (assuming he meant barrels) is correct, then those reserves represent a three-year supply.

    Compared to our consumption, all these novel, difficult sources of fossil fuel represent only a relatively small amount of what our current inefficient infrastructure will require, at least as it’s currently configured.

    This kind of hyped optimism about “gigantic” amounts of yet-to-be-exploited resources is but one example of how narrow the thinking and perspective has become on energy issues.

  • Liz VanDenzen

    All of this should lead President Obama to say no to Shell’s drilling in the Arctic Ocean.  If you’re concerned about Shell’s lack of preparedness and ineptitude, please take action and send a message to the President. http://bit.ly/kullukstuck 

  • http://www.facebook.com/toby.hoffman Toby Hoffman

    True – our miltary should be transformeed from conflict to helping everyone create sustainable communities. Maybe can somehow keep below 10 billion people in more pastoral agrarian ecovillages like how Jared Diamond’s new book says too? BTW – who is scheduling these Winter transports? Horizon was planned too. THey want to poison the planet – our Corporate mansters!

  • BlueNH

    Mining tar sands bitumen and drilling the Arctic is humanity’s downfall. Goodbye future generations. Sorry about all the suffering. Making oodles of money meant more to us than your lives.

  • http://www.facebook.com/toby.hoffman Toby Hoffman

    WAs this considered an insured loss for Shell like the Exxon Veldez village massacre?

    • Mike_Card

      I do not know for sure.  However, having been in the maritime biz, I’m going to guess that Shell’s property loss and any liabilities have been covered by indemnities backed by insurance ever since this tow cast off.

      Exxon was different, in that the vessel was owned by Exxon, not a contracting party.

  • kauaipatty

    When we have spilled sunshine, it’s called a nice day.

  • http://www.facebook.com/toby.hoffman Toby Hoffman

    Such a great Nigerian neighbor too. C class action.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman
  • 1Brett1

    One of the guests mentioned (if I heard correctly) that prospects in the Arctic represent production being a decade down the road, that is if they find oil, which they will (but this also represents time). 

    But let’s say the estimate of ten years away to actually produce oil from the Arctic is accurate. We already know that the oil companies are heavily subsidized by our government, so this represents a decade of oil-subsidized exploration by our government just to get to production mode…and to those who wish to bemoan subsidizing anything to do with any alternative energy sources…you say this Arctic drilling is a viable investment and worthy of subsidies, yet alternative energies are not? 

  • SK

    Why not!! after all we the human race the inheritors of this beautifull and bountifull earth, have for money,power and energy RAPED,PLUNDERED and lay to WASTE the known world,let us finish off the LAST POST the POLAR REGIONS. 

    • Gregg Smith

      The caribou population exploded after the Alaskan pipeline was built. The heat makes them frisky.

      • nj_v2

        Greggg continues to channel the lunatic rantings of drug-addled gasbag Flush Limpballs and other denizens of right-wing idiocy.

        Wildlife dynamics, are, of course, complicated and dynamic, a fact which is lost on dull-witted drones like the devotees of the likes of Rush, Hannity, and the rest of the insane right-wing fringe.Fromhttp://thinkprogress.org/politics/2008/06/20/25018/bachmann-caribou-coffee/?mobile=nc

        [[ Science, however, tells a different tale. Though the Central Arctic herd in Prudhoe Bay has grown, the Porcupine caribou in the Arctic refuge are “very different.” Wildlife biologists say drilling proponents are making an “oversimplified” argument when they tout Prudhoe Bay to justify disrupting the much larger Porcupine herd in the refuge:

        Although the same animals, the two herds are very different. The Porcupine herd migrates over a much larger range, an arduous journey that takes its toll on the herd. Scientists also believe the Central Artic herd, a much smaller herd, has access to several acceptable calving grounds. The Porcupine herd has fewer alternativesand the herd has suffered declines in years when deep snow cover made it difficult to reach its preferred calving grounds on Alaska’s coastal plain.

        Far from becoming a meeting ground, surveys have shown that the Central Arctic “caribou reduced their use of the more heavily developed Prudhoe Bay oil fields by 78 percent, and their east-west movements declined by 90 percent.”

        “As surface development continues, the caribou are effectively crowded out of these areas,” said Ray Cameron, a wildlife biologist who studied caribou for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “They’ve decided it’s not the place to be.”

        Studies have also found that pipeline construction near caribou calving and summering areas can lead to “greater calf mortality” and the “reduction of the population.” ]]

        And a detailed study here:
        http://arcticcircle.uconn.edu/ANWR/anwrcaribouscience.html
        Oil Development and Caribou Science

        • anamaria23

          Thanks for your  always instructive and
          fact based responses.  an interesting post. 

          • Gregg Smith

            Notice Anamaria no one has refuted my claim: “The caribou population exploded after the Alaskan pipeline was built.”

            From NJ’s piece: “Though the Central Arctic herd in Prudhoe Bay has grown…”

            Notice NJ uses outdated data on a subset to make his/her claim. And that’s wrong too.

          • anamaria23

            okay.

          • sickofthechit

             Where’s the study that showed it was due to the warmer pipeline areas?  Could weather patterns have been influential?

            Maybe no more studies are available because we had a Republican controlled congress shortly thereafter….

          • Gregg Smith

            Fair point but I didn’t give a cause just the facts. It may have had nothing to do with the pipeline. All I did is make the case the pipeline did not kill caribous.

          • nj_v2

            You didn’t post “facts.” You posted wildly vacillating claims based on the lying gasbag Limpballs.

            First the population ”exploded,” then it “grew,” now “it didn’t kill caribous.

            When someone nails your sorry butt, you just keep shifting the markers on the field.

          • Gregg Smith

            The caribou population exploded after the pipeline was built. The Porcupine caribou population grew. The pipeline did not kill caribous.
            Just the facts.

        • jefe68

          We don’t need no stinking Caribou.
          When was the last time you were able to find work using a Caribou?

          You see this is the mentality you’re up against. There are a lot of people who don’t care about nature and only want the the status quo to be perserved no matter what.
          It’s the “drill baby drill”  meme crowd.

          • Gregg Smith

            That’s sick as hell Jefe. Your pissing me off now. I guarantee I have more respect for nature than you do. I guarantee I do more for the cause of a healthy environment than you do. STFU.

          • jefe68

            How would you know what I do for the environment or not? Again you contradict yourself. 

            As to me pissing you off, well that’s part of the effect of the BS you post. It’s one of the laws of physics, for every action there is a reaction.

          • Gregg Smith

            Here’s what you responded to: “The caribou population exploded after the Alaskan pipeline was built. The heat makes them frisky.”

            It’s true. And that pisses you off enough to assault my character? Where’s the BS. You’re not making sense. 
             
            Was there any purpose to your vile comment? Or was it just to be nasty? You are the one projecting on me, it’s not the other way around.

        • Gregg Smith

          I find it hilarious you rail about Rush who wasn’t even cited and bring a Think Progress hit piece. So there’s that.

          Your detailed study is from 1995.

          The Porcupine caribou are doing fine. populations have been increasing. In 2001 it was 123K and in 2010 it was 169K.

          • nj_v2

            Greggg resorts to pathetic disingenuousness, trying to pretend that he isn’t a Limpball’s parrot.

            [[ LIMBAUGH: The Alaska National Wildlife Refuge is being portrayed as this beautiful, pristine place on the planet that we cannot disturb because it will terribly upset the balance of nature and all this other garbage. It's just like they opposed the Alaska pipeline. They said, "If we put in the Alaska pipeline, we will destroy the caribou herd up there."

            Well, they put in the Alaska pipeline. And, you know what happened? The caribou herd quadrupled. And you know why? Because the pipeline produces heat. And the caribou, even though they're wintertime beasts, enjoy a little warmth now and then. Particularly during, uh -- uh -- uh -- shall we say, "procreation." And the whackos are wrong.

            If you put together a video of ANWR, you would see nothing but snow and rock. It is no place anybody's ever going to go. The wildlife that lives there wishes it didn't, but it's too stupid to figure out how to move anywhere. They don't have moving vans sent to their places like people in Philadelphia do when they want to get out of someplace. This is absolutely absurd. ]]

          • Gregg Smith

            Rush often agrees with me. Where is he wrong smarty pants? You don’t have to listen to Rush to know the Caribou are doing fine.

        • StilllHere

          .

  • 1Brett1

    By our very nature, we, as citizens, tend to like action rather than process. We like when someone, some functioning body, some corporation, can act and “get the job done.” That is, unless or until that job gets corrupted by its process or lack of process. 

    When we think of bureaucracy, we tend to think of some clunky, overwrought, inept process, usually performed by some personnel-heavy, governmental department/agency. But bureaucracy gets a foothold anytime there is a gathering of large groups of people who have to function together for some common goal. 

    The size of a large group determines that there must be some form of process to manage how the group functions. This is also true in a large corporation, like, say, an oil company. Add to that the common goal of profits, and the process becomes corrupted by profits and the kind of mediocrity we associate with bureaucracy.

    Do we wish to continue gambling in the ways that we do with these large corporations who can’t competently police themselves? Do we wish to continue using the same breath to at once condemn our government for being too regulatory and at the same time condemn them for not being enforcing of regulation, all while bemoaning government and calling to unchain private industry? …The whole process (and thinking) seems flawed. 

  • Gregg Smith

    Why not drill in ANWR? If we could maybe companies would not be forced into dangerous waters. I will point out that many said it was a bad idea because it would take so long to come online. If we had done it when Bush proposed it we would be there by now. Meanwhile those same opposers give Obama credit for wells from permits issued under Bush that are just now reaching the market. Go figure.

    • nj_v2

      Because the amount of economically recoverable oil there only represents a few years of current world consumption, even at the higher range of the estimates.

      Because the potential—inevitable, really—environmental damage would likely outweigh the benefits.

      Because there are more economically viable, less potentially destructive alternatives.

      Because some areas of the plant need to remain as wild and untouched by human activity as possible.

      • Gregg Smith

        A few years of world consumption would be great for America assuming you are correct. It would affect the market big time not to mention the jobs.

        The environmental damage is far less of a risk than tankers across the oceans or drilling miles under water.

        Solar and wind certainly are not economically violable but tracking is.

        ANWR is 20 million acres less than one half of one percent would be needed.

        • sickofthechit

           But how wide can an oil spill spread?

          • Gregg Smith

            Not far if it isn’t miles under water.

    • Mike_Card

      Why not drill all along the Atlantic coast?  There MUST be a pony in there!

      • Gregg Smith

        The Atlantic coast is not a desolate frozen tundra but I’m not opposed to off-shore drilling in some areas. My point however was that drilling on land is less risky than drilling miles underwater.

        • Mike_Card

          Yeah, the points are all set; nothing new going on here.

  • alan_b_ri

    I listened to some of the show, and I don’t think this rig running aground is likely to be nearly as catastrophic or as likely as a ship running aground in those waters – such as the Selendang Ayu in 60 kt winds in December 2004.  That essentially bowl shaped rig is pretty strong, and looks to be still intact, whereas the ship broke in half within hours, if not minutes, of grounding.  That ship was travelling the well trodden Seattle to China shipping route, when its engine failed in similar stormy conditions.

    While im not a proponent of drilling in pristine areas, using bad weather and conditions as a reason not to do it isnt really a valid argument, if you look at all the drilling rigs operating in the North Sea generally without weather related failures.  The latitude is the same – 60 degrees north  and weather there , is just as bad as off Alaska.

    If we, as a nation, wont seriously make the effort to change to alternative energy (look at the really sluggish sales of electric cars, for example, even with massive subsidies) then we we must accept this kind of exploration (and its risks) in our back yard, and not simply just buy oil from some external source, ignoring the financial and environmental, and social upheavals that it leads to both for ourselves, and for other countries.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LISTMFPUWXSPT6JTTLW7EVIFFA Tim

      “If we, as a nation, wont seriously make the effort to change to alternative energy (look at the really sluggish sales of electric cars, for example, even with massive subsidies) then we we must accept this kind of exploration (and its risks) in our back yard … ”

      What about abandoning the wasteful automobile-centered transportation system?  Cars aren’t hard-wired into our DNA, you know.

      • Roy-in-Boise

        Good point … Our kingdom for our cars.

        The Arctic is open because of climate change and what does man want to do? Drill more!
        Mankind will not destroy the earth just his own
        environment.

        In the end the earth will prevail.

    • alan_b_ri

       Today, it got towed off, without any environmental catastrophe.   As I said above – had that been a ship, it would have broken up by now, and  spilt thousands of gallons of fuel oil, if nothing else.

  • Robert P

    When world oil resources begin to run out, the artic oil will be more precious than any of us can imagine.  Since we’re failing to come up with good alternative energy options, we need to save this oil for the future when we’ll be trying to make the final adjustments to a world without oil. 

    • jefe68

      That will work, for about 6 months or so.

  • Fredlinskip

    Since America’s largest EXPORT is now fuel, it stands to reason that the only way to see lower prices at pump in America is to flood world markets with such a massive supply that oil prices drop globally? 

  • Mike_Card

    What company provided the tugs towing the Kulluk?

  • jefe68

    Oil Leak Is Latest Mishap for Alaska’s Troubled Pipelines
    http://www.propublica.org/blog/item/oil-leak-is-latest-mishap-for-troubled-alaska-pipeline-system

    Then there is the seafood industry which contributes $5.8 billion and 78,500 jobs to the Alaskan economy.

  • mattiutsu

    To add to my comments below.  I worked in the chemical industry for 30 years and know full well that if everyone is doing his or her part, any process can be operated, dangerous or not, in calm or foul conditions and not impact on the environment, earth or its people.  The problem is that it only takes one individual not being on the ball and the whole thing falls apart.  We need to use carbon based energy sources only long enough to give us time to change to all renewable energy sources.  We have the technology and new ideas are coming every day.  We need to work together to finance these ideas.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Apr 23, 2014
In this Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, file photo, Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo, Inc., shows a tablet displaying his company's technology, in New York. Aereo is one of several startups created to deliver traditional media over the Internet without licensing agreements. (AP)

The Supreme Court looks at Aereo, the little startup that could cut your cable cord and up-end TV as we’ve known it. We look at the battle. Plus: a state ban on affirmative action in college admissions is upheld. We’ll examine the implications.

Apr 23, 2014
Attendees of the 2013 Argentina International Coaching Federation meet for networking and coaching training. (ICF)

The booming business of life coaches. Everybody seems to have one these days. Therapists are feeling the pinch. We look at the life coach craze.

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Apr 22, 2014
This undated handout photo, taken in 2001, provided by the Museum of the Rockies shows a bronze cast of the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton known as the Wankel T.rex, in front of the Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University in Bozeman, Mont. (AP)

As a new Tyrannosaurus Rex arrives at the Smithsonian, we’ll look at its home – pre-historic Montana – and the age when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.

 
Apr 22, 2014
Security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack in the town of Suwayrah, 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, April 21, 2014. Suicide bombings and other attacks across Iraq killed and wounded dozens on Monday, officials said, the latest in an uptick in violence as the country counts down to crucial parliament elections later this month. (AP)

We look at Iraq now, two years after Americans boots marched out. New elections next week, and the country on the verge of all-out civil war.

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