Risky business in the far north

Posted by ben — 3 August 2011 at 4:01pm - Comments
Melting icebergs in the path of rigs in the Arctic, the latest oil frontier
All rights reserved. Credit: Will Rose / Greenpeace
Melting icebergs in the path of rigs in the Arctic, the latest oil frontier

Today Cairn Energy published the latest operational update for its risky oil drilling off Greenland and the news, at least for the wildcat oil company, was far from good.

For the second year in succession Cairn, has announced it has found no oil in the Arctic.

The company has been forced to plug and abandon its well in the deep water Lady Franklin block in the Davis Strait, a major setback for Cairn and the rest of the oil industry who see the melting ice caps as a business opportunity.

It has also temporarily abandoned the well at the Atammik site to move operations further north and open up two new drill sites, whilst still refusing to make its near-mythical oil spill response plan public.

Its share price has taken a hammering, falling over five per cent today and 13 per cent in the last month. Somehow Chief Executive Simon Thomson remains “encouraged” by the news, saying he “continues to be optimistic” about prospects this year, but analysts have been scathing.

One said it “increases the uncertainty for Cairn,” another called it “clearly a negative”, while a third claimed “it’s hard to see how this result won’t impact sentiment towards the remainder of the 2011 program”.

Cairn is taking a multi-million dollar gamble with the fragile Arctic environment and has come up with nothing. This should be a lesson to other oil companies, like Shell, who are eyeing up new ventures among the icebergs in the far north. What was already an unattractive investment now looks even riskier, not least when a new report exposed how difficult a clean up operation off Greenland would be.

The report, written for the National Energy Board of Canada, concludes that sorting out an oil spill in the Davis Strait would likely be delayed by extreme conditions and that any operations would be much less effective than in other, less remote places. [pdf]

It found that even if a spill happened in high summer between July and August there would still only be a one-in-three chance that clean up methods could be successfully used.

Cairn’s latest setback in Greenland is further evidence that chasing oil in the frozen north is a bad idea. Rather than dangerous drilling for oil in the vulnerable Arctic we should be extracting oil from car companies like Volkswagen by forcing them to make more efficient cars.

so, they 'drove' their oilrig from Turkey to Greenland and put the Arctic and people's livelihoods in danger. They did not find oil, and now they are going further north; more remote, more impossible to clean up any oil slick... S.O. I.R.R.E.S.P.O.N.S.I.B.L.E. Their investors should look towards sustainable energy!!

I hope their platform sinks as fast as their share prices

cairn was created by a guy whom doesnt give two hoots for the environment - ive met him at a corporate doo in edinburgh - he was rattling on about their finds off india - i could see the £££££ glimmering in his eyes - drilling for deep oil in the far north is sheer madness - if when something goes badly wrong - it will be proved that a suitable clean up op will be nigh on impossible - very happy they found nout

Since when efficiency has reduced oil consumption?

Or any consumption?


If a car uses less fuel, it uses less oil, so there is less demand for oil, so companies like Cairn feel less of a need to drill their greed machines into fragile ecosystems.


This is how oil companies ''clean up'' once they have got what they wanted....


If this was replecated in the Arctic then human beings are guilty of a heinous crime...against the earth we ALL live on and the head of Cairn and any other oil company responsible for environmental crimes in the Arctic, should be imprisoned for a long time.

Hey if its TOE OAK you're looking for he's in Nottingham! Oil drips from the toes of trees you know! Isn't it South America! The tern who told me of the oil spill reported that usually the birds who are damaged irreparably by the oil, and who are actually becoming more frequent visitors to England, actually think the oil is a beached whale and go for a feast> How can I TELL THEM OTHERWISE? wELL i AM THE bIRD GIRL AREN'T I sHAMANS?


less car  is less
oil demand, so companies like Cairn feel less of a need to drill their greed
machines into fragile ecosystems. games for girls

About Ben A

I've been a Greenpeace campaigner since 2001 and have worked on GM, Forests, Climate, Nukes and most recently Go Beyond Oil. I read Archaeology at Bristol and have an MSc in Environmental Technology from Imperial College.

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