Heavy ice could delay start of Shell Alaska’s Arctic drilling

Kim Murphy
Los Angeles Times
via The Kansas City Star
5/26/2012

SEATTLE — The heaviest polar ice in more than a decade could postpone the start of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean until the beginning of August, a delay of up to two weeks, Shell Alaska officials said.

Unveiling a newly refurbished ice-class rig that is poised to begin drilling two exploratory wells this summer in the Beaufort Sea, Shell executives said Friday that the unusually robust sea ice would further narrow what already is a tight window for operations. The company’s $4-billion program is designed to measure the extent of what could be the United States’ most important new inventory of oil and gas.

Shell has pledged to end its first season of exploratory drilling by Oct. 31 in the Beaufort Sea and 38 days earlier in the more remote Chukchi Sea to remain within the relatively ice-free summer season.

Meeting with reporters and Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, on board the Kulluk drilling rig in the Seattle shipyards, Shell’s vice president for Alaska operations, Pete Slaiby, said the company had given up on its controversial attempt to win permission from the federal government to extend Chukchi drilling though October as well.

“Not this year. I think it’s a done deal,” he said.

The summer ice melt in the Arctic has often reached record levels in recent years in what many scientists believe is a sign of climate change. But this year a high pressure zone over the coast of Alaska, low winter temperatures and certain ocean currents have combined to bring unusually large amounts of ice not only to Alaska’s northern coast, but farther south in the Bering Sea as well, National Weather Service officials said…

The article continues at The Kansas City Star.

H/T Ann McElhinney

RelatedClimategate Continues Will a penalty be called for Keith Briffa’s excessively curved hockey stick?

Climategate, the 2009 exposure of misconduct at the University of East Anglia, was a terrible blow to the reputation of climatology, and indeed to that of British and American science. Although that story hasn’t been in the news in recent months, new evidence of similar scientific wrongdoing continues to emerge, with a new scandal hitting the climate blogosphere just a few days ago.

And central to the newest story is one of the Climategate scientists: Keith Briffa, an expert in reconstructing historical temperature records from tree rings. More particularly, the recent scandal involves a tree-ring record Briffa prepared for a remote area of northern Russia called Yamal…

Also, at Instapundit:

CHANGE: Center Of Gravity In Oil World Shifts to Americas.

From Canada to Colombia to Brazil, oil and gas production in the Western Hemisphere is booming, with the United States emerging less dependent on supplies from an unstable Middle East. Central to the new energy equation is the United States itself, which has ramped up production and is now churning out 1.7 million more barrels of oil and liquid fuel per day than in 2005.

“There are new players and drivers in the world,” said Ruben Etcheverry, chief executive of Gas and Oil of Neuquen, a state-owned energy firm that is positioning itself to develop oil and gas fields here in Patagonia. “There is a new geopolitical shift, and those countries that never provided oil and gas can now do so. For the United States, there is a glimmer of the possibility of self-sufficiency.”

Oil produced in Persian Gulf countries — notably Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq — will remain vital to the world’s energy picture. But what was once a seemingly unalterable truth — that American oil production would steadily fall while the United States remained heavily reliant on Middle Eastern supplies — is being turned on its head.

Good.

Related: New And Frozen Frontier Awaits Offshore Drilling. “Barring a successful last-minute legal challenge by environmental groups, Shell will begin drilling test wells off the coast of northern Alaska in July, opening a new frontier in domestic oil exploration and accelerating a global rush to tap the untold resources beneath the frozen ocean.”

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