The United States blocks oil drilling in the Arctic

After Shell, Obama blocks new oil drilling activities in the Arctic. Is it the very end of the soap opera that has been going on for many years?

“Yes. No. I don’t know. Let me think about it”. The never-ending soap opera on Arctic oil drilling seems to have come to an end. At least for the moment. After the decision made by Shell to “cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future” due to their costs, the interior secretary Sally Jewell, in behalf of the government of the United States, announced the decision of going back and stop oil exploration activities in Chukchi and Beaufort seas.


The actress Emma Thomson supports Greenpeace © Dan Kitwood/Getty Images


Shell decided to abandon the Arctic in September following the drop of oil costs and after it invested seven years and $7 billion trying to find oil in the Arctic with no results, despite the US Geological Society has estimated that the Arctic holds up to 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves.


Jewell said the decision to cancel leases scheduled for 2016 and 2017 has been made considering both the drop in oil costs on international stock exchanges and the bad conditions exploration activities were carried out.


US interior secretary Sally Jewell © Win McNamee/Getty Images


Environmental organisations call for victory, but unfortunately the decision made by the Obama administration was largely due to mere interest evaluations, rather than NGOs pressures, many analysts say. It’s not a coincidence that Michael LeVine, Arctic campaigner for Oceana, said that “These are great steps in the right direction, but it is not the end of Arctic drilling forever”. Greenpeace, which has protested for months with kayakers in the Seattle Bay, has announced “it was raising its paddles in salute to Obama”.


Greenpeace’s protests with kayaks in Seattle Bay © David Ryder/Getty Images


The fact that oil is not economically convenient anymore has to be welcomed as good news, since it makes us understand that the old-school capitalism based on fossil fuel exploration and exploitation is giving way to a more sustainable and balanced development.

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