The beginning of the week started with a major victory for environmentalists: fossil fuel company Shell announced it will freeze its Artcic drilling activities for “the forseeable future”. Shell itself blames the disappointing outcome from the explorations this summer in the Alaskan Arctic for the halt in its search for oil and gas in the basin. After three years of strong opposition, environmental groups applaud the decision and called it “an unmitigated defeat” for big oil.
For sure public opinion and rising concerns about Shell’s plans for Arctic oil and gas exploration played an important role. Critics said that it would endanger one of the last pristine areas on earth and that the operations in such harsh environments would just be too costly. Plus, when something goes wrong at a drilling site in the Arctic, it is very difficult to react fast to limit the damage. Even the former president of BP questioned Shell’s plans for Arctic drilling.
Despite Shell’s effort to portray itself as a progressive company in the climate change debate, it looks that they lost a lot of credit with their drilling plans for the Arctic. And not only their image got a serious blow; they spent more than 6 million euros so far on the hunt for fossil fuel in the region. That would have been enough to install around 1700 1MegaWatt wind turbines, 5.4 carbon capture and storage facilities or 46 000 years of heat for a eco-house, according to a calculation of the Guardian.