Oil firms overlook safety issues in Arctic -watchdog
The Arctic is estimated to hold some 30 percent of the world's undiscovered gas and 13 percent of its untapped oil, which is leading energy firms to explore further north.
But exploring in this remote, cold region is risky, as Royal Dutch Shell most recently experienced when its Kulluk oil rig ran aground in Alaska on New Year's Eve in near hurricane conditions. Environmentalists have long said the Arctic's challenging conditions make it too risky to search for hydrocarbons. A spill, they say, would be near impossible to clean up.
Norway, the world's eighth-biggest crude exporter, is one of several Arctic nations opening vast swathes of northern offshore areas to oil companies, most of them so far ice-free and relatively accessible. But oil companies are also looking even further north to more difficult zones.
"There are several things that do not appear to be clearly on their agenda," Magne Ognedal, head of the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway, said in an interview.
"One of them is satellite coverage, which is so bad so far north that some say that you cannot navigate safely in these areas," he added.
"Polar low-pressure fronts are (also) difficult: a storm can form in half an hour. Suddenly you have a storm that you were not warned about, and what do you do? We need better weather warning systems."
A third issue is the lack
Be the first to comment.