Study: An Arctic Oil Well Blowout Could Spread More Than 1,000km

Posted by Eric Haun
Friday, July 25, 2014

Oil from a spill or oil well blowout in the Arctic waters of Canada's Beaufort Sea could easily become trapped in sea ice and potentially spread more than 1,000 kilometres to the west coast of Alaska, a World Wildlife Fund study showed on Friday.

The WWF contracted RPS Applied Science Associates to model 22 different oil spill scenarios and map the spread of the oil, potential impact on the water and shoreline, and interaction with sea ice, wildlife and the surrounding ecology.

Types of oil spills analyzed included shipping spills, shallow-water blowouts and deep-water blowouts. The BP Plc Macondo oil well rupture in 2010 that unleashed more than four million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico was a deep-water blowout.

The remote Beaufort Sea is a section of the Arctic Ocean that spans the Canada-U.S. border. It comprises about 476,000 square kilometres (184,000 square miles) off the northern coasts of Alaska, and Canada's Yukon and Northwest territories, and until recently was packed with sea ice even in summer.

But as the Arctic gets warmer and the ice retreats, shipping lanes have opened up and oil companies are hungrily eyeing the 90 billion barrels of oil equivalent reserves that the U.S. Geological Survey estimates lie beneath the Arctic Ocean, amounting to almost three years of global demand.

Conoco Phillips and Statoil both have Arctic exploration programs but hazards in the inhospitable region are high. Royal Dutch Shell has not resumed its Arctic drilling program since a drilling rig ran aground in the Gulf of Alaska in 2012.

"Development in the Arctic is fraught with risks, and drilling for oil in the Beaufort Sea is exceptionally risky, especially in deep waters," said David Miller, president and chief execuive of WWF-Canada.

"This work will help ensure that we all can see how even minor spills can have major impacts, and that these potential consequences are fully considered in planning decisions."

(Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Peter Galloway)

Maritime Reporter April 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Energy

Shell CEO Backs Fossil Fuels, Climate Change Warnings

The world's fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned unless some way is found to capture their carbon emissions, Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said on Friday.

Pipeline Spill Could Hamper California Oil Projects

Hundreds of barrels of oil that gushed from a ruptured coastal pipeline in scenic California this week could stiffen opposition to large oil projects that companies want to build in the state,

U.S. Senators Urge Obama to Block Arctic Oil Drilling

A group of 18 mostly Democratic U.S. senators on Friday urged the Obama administration to stop Royal Dutch Shell's preparations for oil exploration in the Arctic,

News

Shell CEO Backs Fossil Fuels, Climate Change Warnings

The world's fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned unless some way is found to capture their carbon emissions, Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said on Friday.

Severe Flooding Cuts Off Lone Road to Alaska's Oilfield

Alaska's lone road to North Slope oil field operations remains closed for the third time in two months while emergency crews continue to redirect flooding from an adjacent river,

Pipeline Spill Could Hamper California Oil Projects

Hundreds of barrels of oil that gushed from a ruptured coastal pipeline in scenic California this week could stiffen opposition to large oil projects that companies want to build in the state,

Arctic Operations

U.S. Senators Urge Obama to Block Arctic Oil Drilling

A group of 18 mostly Democratic U.S. senators on Friday urged the Obama administration to stop Royal Dutch Shell's preparations for oil exploration in the Arctic,

IMO Adopts Polar Code Environmental Provisions

United Nations' International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted the environmental part of the Polar Code. Hereby, internationally binding regulations on

Global Warming Slowdown Tracked to Indian Ocean

Global surface warming has slowed since the start of the twenty-first century, while Pacific heat uptake was enhanced. Analyses of ocean heat content suggest that

Offshore Energy

Mobil Says Oil Discovery off Guyana is 'Significant'

Unlike almost all its neighbors, Guyana isn’t an oil producer yet. But the energy giant Exxon Mobil recently announced it had discovered “significant” oil off the coast.

US Oil Platform on Fire in Gulf Of Mexico

An oil platform caught fire and was evacuated in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico offshore Louisiana in the early hours of Friday, though no injuries were reported, the U.

Protea to Launch Heavy-Lift Cranes at Nor-Shipping

Protea, a global manufacturer of offshore handling equipment, will launch two types of heavy lift cranes at Nor-Shipping 2015 in Oslo, June 2-5. Tomasz Paszkiewicz,

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1321 sec (8 req/sec)