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Greenpeace Demands to Ban Drilling at Arctic Shelf

Greenpeace demands to classify the Arctic Shelf around the North Pole as an international nature reserve and to introduce the ban on drilling over the whole area of the shelf. The environmentalists think that the possible benefits from shelf development are not worth running the risks that oil and gas projects bear.

It should be reminded that November 7 saw the accident on the drilling platform Floatel Superior managed by Statoil in the Norwegian Sea. In the course of works on the platform one of the ballast tanks got damaged, which made the vessel hove down by 4-5 degrees. No oil spill occurred simply because there were no drilling works carried out at the moment of the accident. For the sake of safety 334 people were evacuated on the helicopters, 40 remained on the platform to conduct emergency operations. The platform is planned to be transported to the shore.

The current accident in the Norwegian Sea reminds us that even the most up-to-date technologies (and the platform was built in 2010) in the most highly developed countries fail from time to time. And even Statoil with its 30-years experience in the development of the Arctic shelf in Norway is not secured to avoid accidents.

The incident took place not far from the shore and it is due to this fact the worst did not happen – the reaction of those responsible for safety operation of the platform was prompt and correct. But Statoil, as many other operators, is pursuing oil production in the Arctic shelf in the extreme weather conditions, hundreds of kilometers off civilization, where no company has work experience and where the consequences of the oil spill will be irreversible and catastrophic. The Russian part of the Arctic shelf also gets into the company’s sphere of interest – in May 2012 they created a joint venture with Rosneft to extract oil on the Perseevskiy deposit in the Barents Sea, it is planned to invest up to 40 billion dollars into its development.

“The accidents on the platforms Kolskaya in the Sea of Okhotsk, Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico and the recent emergency situation on the Total platform in the North Sea and many others prove that there is no 100% safety guarantee, — Vladimir Chuprov, the head of the Greenpeace Arctic program in Russia says. – At the same time so far there are no efficient ways of coping with oil spills at sea, not mentioning Arctic shelf”.

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