Quartz reports: After eight years and $7 billion of work, including some humiliating seafaring blunders and the black eye of the environmental spotlight, Shell has abandoned a high-stakes effort to find oil in the Arctic sea near Alaska.
The oil giant appears to have decided that, while global warming is melting a lot of northern ice, thus potentially opening up huge oil reserves, the Arctic is still an extraordinarily tough, risky, and expensive place to work.
The drilling effort in the Chukchi Sea may mark a close to an Arctic oil fever ignited in 2008, when the US Geological Survey issued a report saying that some 13% of the world’s remaining oil lay in the north — perhaps as much as 90 billion barrels of oil. Given that a 1-billion-barrel field is known as a supergiant, and that oil prices at the time were closing in on $100 a barrel, oil companies drooled over the prospects. Climate change even seemed to be co-operating, making the northern sea routes passable to drilling vessels and supply ships. [Continue reading…]