With leases pending in the Beaufort Sea three years from now, the World Wildlife Fund is voicing its opposition. The organization says drilling in the Arctic is too risky and computer models show just how much so.
A hypothetical oil spill in the Beaufort Sea above Canada can now be tracked on an interactive map, published by the World Wildlife Fund. Users of an interactive map can see impacts to coastlines and wildlife through time with the predicted fallout far reaching.
“What the model shows in most cases is that the potential oil spill accidents taking place in the Canadian waters of the Beaufort sea would likely flow in a westerly direction, flowing into areas of the Alaska Beaufort Sea,” said WWF’s Managing Director for Arctic Programs.
The information comes the same day the Bureau of Ocean Energy Mxanagement or BOEM announced its starting to gather information for a lease sale in Alaska's Beaufort Sea.
“We believe there's a substantial energy resource up there in the Beaufort," said Jim Kendall the Regional Director for BOEM Alaska OCS.
A decision hasn't been made yet. BOEM is asking for input from industry and anyone who has an interest offshore, including traditional uses. It says the study just released is very valuable.
“The areas are all connected," Kendall said. "The boundaries you see on a map are just boundaries on a map so we take information like that study that was just competed, that's a very important study and we're looking at it right now we also do our own modeling of where a potential spill could go."
The oil and gas industry says the fact is resources are in the arctic and any drilling will be done safely.
“They're using it as a fundraising tool to try and shut down development here in Alaska and from our standpoint we want to develop our resources here, we know how to do it right," said Kara Moriarty the President and CEO of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association. "We do it safely. We can do it and we should.”
BOEM is working on upgrading its arctic specific standards after a review of shells troubled drilling season. Those will be released later this year.