Earlier this year, Shell Oil Company announced its plans to commence drilling near Alaska. This extremely controversial announcement rallied environmentalists together to stop Shell. Before even announcing that they would drill for oil in the Arctic, Shell had spent over $7 billion searching for the prospect of oil. According to The Guardian, Shell would yield about $4.1 billion in profits from drilling, a number not high enough for them. Also, shareholders in Shell were worried about falling oil prices. This decision to not proceed with drilling in the Arctic was also affected by their futile search for oil in the Chukchi Sea.
But just because Shell has said they’re not going to drill in the Arctic doesn’t mean that in the future, they’ll keep to that promise. Due to global warming, oil under the ice that was once quite difficult to get to is getting more accessible. Drilling in the Arctic would add to the global warming crisis and keep melting more parts of the ice. Numerous species of animals depend on the ice for their survival and if the ice completely disappears, these animals will too. The extinction of these animals is going to disrupt the entire ecosystem. In fact, scientists warn that polar bears will likely disappear in the next 100 years if measures aren’t taken to protect them, according to Greenpeace.
The process to drill for oil, maintain it, store it and process it is a lengthy one, offering multiple opportunities for the oil to be spilled. If Shell does drill for oil in the Arctic in the future, then an oil spill there would be disastrous. Oil is hard to clean up, especially in open waters such as in the Arctic. The oil contaminates the water and in turn, infects the marine life. Not only are the consequences for oil spills instant, but there are also long-lasting consequences. Some oil turns into a tar ball and sinks, where it will remain for years, releasing hydrocarbons into the water, according to events.awma.org.
Many environmentalists rallied together when Shell announced their plans. In Portland, when one of Shell’s tankers had to dock and then navigate under a bridge to get to the Pacific, protesters were in kayaks, trying to prevent the tanker from going through. Also, protesters also hung from a bridge using slings and ropes attached to the bridge’s supports. Other protestors also boarded Shell’s oil rig to protest.
If more companies invested in green energy, rather than spending it on oil, the various companies would make more money because of how renewable green energy is. By investing in renewable energy sources, they’d also help the planet for future generations. Shell spent $7 billion just searching for oil- imagine what they could do with that money put toward wind farms and solar panels.
Written by Hannah Arios, ESLLC 2015-2016