Rescind Shell oil companies Artic drilling permits, and declare a moratorium on all Artic off shore

Rescind Shell oil companies’ artic drilling permits and Declare a moratorium on all off shore drilling in the artic and North Aleutian basin.  Because of the threat it will pose to wild life and for the following reasons

Spill response plans are incapable of dealing with the rough icy and remote environment throughout the entire year.  Not enough is known about the stability of possible methane hydrates on the artic sea floor.  Methane hydrates in these areas that may become more unstable as the artic sea warms. Drilling in these regions could exasperate that instability resulting in a catastrophic methane release. 

In the article Shell overcomes legal obstacles to Arctic drilling,  by Sara Reardon from the New Scientist Environment blog, reference 1, These problems where identified.

  • Booms would be ineffective as floating sea ice would obstruct them. 
  • dropping dispersants from helicopters, can leave fish more exposed to oil's harmful effects. And it's not clear how well they would work in the Arctic: even in mid-summer, low-angle sunlight and cold water could fail to activate the chemicals.
  • Burning the oil, and skimming it off the surface would be dificult because. The flammable materials that are added to oil spills for burn-offs would also be less efficient In the artic.
  •  Shell will have ice-breaker ships on hand to create a path for skimmers, but broken ice may create more problems. "On a good day, we can recover 15 per cent of the oil from a fixed release in open water," says Richard Charter of the Ocean Foundation. "If you get tar oil mixed with broken sea ice, you're not going to recover it at all."
  •  if oil gets under the ice, he (Richard charter) says, it could stay there indefinitely since it won't be degraded by sunlight or bacteria. Shell says they can track the oil under seasonal ice using radar and other sensors, and recover it in the spring. But recovering oil that's carried out to sea would be too dangerous for skimmer ships.
  • The Last resort to deal with a blowout is to drill a relief well the only solution that has been consistently and permanently effective, in stopping a blowout – they're not required to take the precaution of drilling two wells in parallel in order to have one ready. It takes three to six months, to drill a relief well, precious time they would not have if the blowout were late in the season.

The GAO Government Accountability office has raised these questions as well reference 2

  • The report raised questions about whether wellhead equipment could withstand ice that scoured along the sea floor.
  • If a blowout did occur, Shell and the oil industry might not have enough boats and people in place to deal with it, the GAO report said.
  • The report said Shell officials "told us that additional personnel would be needed to respond to a subsea well blowout. Moving personnel to the site could delay a response, since harbors, airstrips and hotels necessary to support personnel are limited in number and size along Alaska's northern shore. The facilities are also generally much farther from the drilling sites than they are in the Gulf of Mexico

Also methane hydrates in the artic are starting to become unstable do to climate change, see this link. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/vast-methane-plumes-seen-in-arctic-ocean-as-sea-ice-retreats-6276278.html

  "The decision by BP and many other energy companies to drill through possible  areas of unusual ice-like crystals -- called methane hydrates -- is a risky one fraught with huge consequences for failure."

 In the article Volatile Methane Ice Could Spark More Drilling Disasters reference 3 by Eric Niiler  Wed May 12, 2010 07:00 AM ET

·       "Methane hydrates are a geological hazard, Energy companies used to avoid methane hydrates no matter what. Now the industry may be drilling right into danger."

 "The rush to produce more oil for domestic consumption has forced companies like BP to take bigger risks by drilling in deep waters that are a breeding ground of hydrates. And they worry that a new drilling push into the Arctic Ocean -- which President Barack Obama has authorized to begin next month -- could expose a fragile and remote environment to additional risks from catastrophic oil spills."

References’:

1.       New Scientist Environment blog, Title:  Shell overcomes legal obstacles to Arctic drilling, Author: Sara Reardon 17:58 30 March 2012 © 2012 Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21654-shell-overcomes-legal-obstacles-to-arctic-

2.       Titled: Interior Has Strengthened Its Oversight of Subsea Well Containment, but Should Improve Its Documentation GAO-12-244, Feb 29, 2012  http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/588961.pdf

3.       Volatile Methane Ice Could Spark More Drilling Disasters ..news.discovery.com › Earth News  By Eric Niiler Wed May 12, 2010 07:00 AM ET

http://news.discovery.com/earth/oil-spill-methane-hydrates.html









Dear Mr President,









       I am writing to you in order to draw attention to concerns that the environmental community has about off shore drilling in the artic.









       These Concerns are Justifiable fact-based and echoed by many scientists and the G.A.O. More importantly they are rooted in direct experience of the 2010 gulf oil spill whose full biological environmental and economic impact of the Gulf region is yet to be realized. In light of the recent approval of shell to drill in the Chuckchi and Beaufort Seas above the Arctic Circle, we as a country must question the wisdom of this decision based on difficult environment of the artic and its remote access.









       The wisdom and timing of decision in light of our recent discovery of the role additional atmospheric carbon is playing in the acidification of the ocean. (ref 1 below)as well as possible massive release of methane from the ocean floor of the artic by disturbing of methane hydrates. Metahe Hydrates played a significant role in the initial explosion of the Deep water horizon disaster, and impededed a successful response to a blowout.  (Ref 2 and 3 Below)









    Just as importantly the timing of this makes no sense when our country is currently exporting oil and has so much natural gas that there is not enough storage capacity for it. We should be using this short time of plenty to develop renewable resources that do not destroy the enviroment. 









The Following are Some of the concerns









Spill response plans are incapable of dealing with the rough icy and remote environment throughout the entire year.  Not enough is known about the stability of possible methane hydrates on the artic sea floor.  Methane hydrates in these areas that may become more unstable as the artic sea warms. Drilling in these regions could exasperate that instability resulting in a catastrophic methane release. 









In the article Shell overcomes legal obstacles to Arctic drilling,  by Sara Reardon from the New Scientist Environment blog, reference 1, These problems where identified.


























          • Booms would be ineffective as floating sea ice would obstruct them. 









































          • dropping dispersants from helicopters, can leave fish more exposed to oil's harmful effects. And it's not clear how well they would work in the Arctic: even in mid-summer, low-angle sunlight and cold water could fail to activate the chemicals.









































          • Burning the oil, and skimming it off the surface would be dificult because. The flammable materials that are added to oil spills for burn-offs would also be less efficient In the artic.









































          •  Shell will have ice-breaker ships on hand to create a path for skimmers, but broken ice may create more problems. "On a good day, we can recover 15 per cent of the oil from a fixed release in open water," says Richard Charter of the Ocean Foundation. "If you get tar oil mixed with broken sea ice, you're not going to recover it at all."









































          •  if oil gets under the ice, he (Richard charter) says, it could stay there indefinitely since it won't be degraded by sunlight or bacteria. Shell says they can track the oil under seasonal ice using radar and other sensors, and recover it in the spring. But recovering oil that's carried out to sea would be too dangerous for skimmer ships.









































          • The Last resort to deal with a blowout is to drill a relief well the only solution that has been consistently and permanently effective, in stopping a blowout – they're not required to take the precaution of drilling two wells in parallel in order to have one ready. It takes three to six months, to drill a relief well, precious time they would not have if the blowout were late in the season.



































The GAO Government Accountability office has raised these questions as well reference 2


























          • The report raised questions about whether wellhead equipment could withstand ice that scoured along the sea floor.









































          • If a blowout did occur, Shell and the oil industry might not have enough boats and people in place to deal with it, the GAO report said.









































          • The report said Shell officials "told us that additional personnel would be needed to respond to a subsea well blowout. Moving personnel to the site could delay a response, since harbors, airstrips and hotels necessary to support personnel are limited in number and size along Alaska's northern shore. The facilities are also generally much farther from the drilling sites than they are in the Gulf of Mexic

























Also methane hydrates in the artic are starting to become unstable do to climate change, see this link. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/vast-methane-plumes-seen-in-arctic-ocean-as-sea-ice-retreats-6276278.html









  "The decision by BP and many other energy companies to drill through possible  areas of unusual ice-like crystals -- called methane hydrates -- is a risky one fraught with huge consequences for failure."









              In the article Volatile Methane Ice Could Spark More Drilling Disasters reference 3 by Eric Niiler  Wed May 12, 2010 07:00 AM ET









·       "Methane hydrates are a geological hazard, Energy companies used to avoid methane hydrates no matter what. Now the industry may be drilling right into danger."









·      "The rush to produce more oil for domestic consumption has forced companies like BP to take bigger risks by drilling in deep waters that are a breeding ground of hydrates. And they worry that a new drilling push into the Arctic Ocean -- which President Barack Obama has authorized to begin next month -- could expose a fragile and remote environment to additional risks from catastrophic oil spills."









References’:









1.       New Scientist Environment blog, Title:  Shell overcomes legal obstacles to Arctic drilling, Author: Sara Reardon 17:58 30 March 2012 © 2012 Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21654-shell-overcomes-legal-obstacles-to-arctic-









2.       Titled: Interior Has Strengthened Its Oversight of Subsea Well Containment, but Should Improve Its Documentation GAO-12-244, Feb 29, 2012  http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/588961.pdf









3.       Volatile Methane Ice Could Spark More Drilling Disasters ..news.discovery.com › Earth News  By Eric Niiler Wed May 12, 2010 07:00 AM ET









http://news.discovery.com/earth/oil-spill-methane-hydrates.html

























 









References:









1.       Title: ACID TEST, a film produced by NRDC, (Natural Resources Defense Council) was made to raise awareness about the largely unknown problem of ocean acidification, which poses a fundamental challenge to life in the seas and the health of the entire planet. http://www.nrdc.org/oceans/acidification/aboutthefilm.asp









 









 









2.       "Methane hydrates are a geological hazard,” Energy companies used to avoid methane hydrates no matter what. Now the industry may be drilling right into danger .By Eric Niiler Wed May 12, 2010 07:00 AM ET Copyright © 2012 Discovery Communications, LLC. http://news.discovery.com/earth/oil-spill-methane-hydrates.html









 









3.       “ Vast methane 'plumes' seen in Arctic ocean as sea ice retreats”  From the independent, Author: Steve Connor Tuesday 13 December 2011  www.independent.co.uk/news/science/vast-methane-plumes-seen-in-arctic-ocean-as-sea-ice-retreats-6276278.html









 

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