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After Spill, BP Puts Arctic Drilling On Hold

Aug 26, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP
mexico oil spill

BP Cancels Plan To Drill In Arctic

In the wake of the massive and historic Gulf of Mexico oil spill this April following the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig, BP has canceled plans to drill in the Arctic, said AFP. A new oil rush is expected there, but BP is fearful that drilling in the Arctic now would be "political madness," said the AFP, quoting Britain’s Guardian. The Deepwater Horizon explosion released millions of barrels of oil and resulted in horrendous and ongoing environmental damage .

BP said that it would not seek an exploration license in Greenland, wrote the AFP, "We are not participating in the bid round," a spokesman for the British firm told the Guardian. No details were given, but the massive Gulf Oil Spill is likely the reason.

The Scottish exploration group, Cairn Energy, just announced it located gas off Greenland's coast, suggesting additional hydrocarbon resources might also be in the area, said the AFP. Of note, the region is home to blue whales, polar bears, and seals, said AFP. Cairn Energy’s announcement has many wondering if another oil rush is in the works; however, environmental advocates are concerned about the effects of drilling there, said the AFP. Activists with Greenpeace have urged Cairn to stop its work in the area, traveling via its Greenpeace ship to the Arctic to speak directly with the group.

Gulf Of Mexico Fiasco

The Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, said that a list of successful bidders for exploration licenses will be released in the next few weeks, wrote the Guardian.

Key sources told the Guardian that both the government of Greenland and BP agreed that now is not the time for the oil giant to become involved in drilling work. "With the Greenpeace ship already harassing Cairn off Greenland—a company which has an exemplary safety record—everyone realised it would be political madness to give the green light to BP."

The Gulf of Mexico fiasco has significantly damaged BP’s image and is costing the firm tens of millions of dollars in cleanup and compensation, said AFP. The British firm was finally able to end the oil gush last month.

Meanwhile, we just wrote that technology might have hindered efforts to stop the Macondo well’s flow following the Deepwater explosion, citing the Washington Post. It seems workers lacked appropriate technical gear and were unable to receive large emails from those on land, according to testimony made before an investigative federal panel. Just prior, we wrote that an emerging study suggested that the over 50,000 workers involved in the cleanup efforts could experience long-term breathing and health problems.

We also reported that a group of scientists discovered a massive plume of hydrocarbons from the BP oil spill. According to a statement from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the plume measured at least 22 miles long and was located more than 3,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. Some 57,000 discrete chemical analyses were measured in real time during a June 19-28 scientific cruise aboard the R/V Endeavor. While the oil droplets that comprised the plume were too small for the eye to see, samples of the plume analyzed by the scientists confirmed the existence of benzene, toluene, ethybenzene, and total xylenes. 

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