Shell Oil VP: Spills Will Happen In Arctic Drilling

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Shell Oil was given the rights to exploratory drilling in Alaska, and a couple of choice quotes have the local population concerned about their livelihoods and the survival of their primary sources of food during the cold winter months.

After years of legal wrangling, Shell Oil finally got the rights to offshore drilling in Alaska. Many, however, are concerned about the damage it will do to their fishing hauls. Whale meat and fish are not just delicacies but actual, normal food for some Alaskans.

At Point Hope, a small community near where Shell will be drilling, 80% of their food supply comes from what they’ve caught themselves. 

Says Point Hope’s Mayor:

Their proposed Arctic drilling is right in the path of the animals’ migration routes. We live in a cycle of life that hasn’t changed for thousands of years. We know where the animals are coming. We know when they are going north, when they are going south, this is our home, our land, our identity as a people.

He recognizes that he and everyone in his town are dependent on fossil fuels, and the influx of employment opportunities are, indeed, a good thing. But if there’s any spilling at all, the wildlife could be forever contaminated — as would their food chain.

Pete Slaiby, VP of Shell Oil in Alaska, quietly notes that spillage is all but guaranteed to happen, but downplays the impact:

There’s no sugar-coating this, I imagine there would be spills, and no spill is OK. But will there be a spill large enough to impact people’s subsistence? My view is no, I don’t believe that would happen.

Question: Do you think the risk is worth the reward? Are the safeguards against spillage good enough?

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