Strong winds and sometimes 50-foot waves are preventing emergency workers from boarding a grounded oil drilling vessel off the Alaskan coast, according to the US Coast Guard. The accident appears unlikely to cause major environmental damage, but further complicates an already grueling experience by Shell getting drilling going in the Arctic.
As a whole, the Arctic is estimated to hold 25% of the world’s remaining oil and natural gas, and is becoming more accessible to oil exploration because of global warming. Yet even as the ice melts, the seas have not calmed, and are not forecast to.
The incident is likely to be another blow to Shell in advancing its drilling near Alaska. US Congressman Ed Markey issued a statement on Jan. 1: “Oil companies keep saying they can conquer the Arctic, but the Arctic keeps disagreeing with the oil companies. Drilling expansion could prove disastrous for this sensitive environment.”