In a turn of events unrivaled in recent fossil fuel developments, one of the major world players in oil exploration and refining, has recently stated what many of us rational thinkers had thought would never be uttered; drilling in the Arctic is a bad idea. Joy! Finally someone a the top of the very issues that got us into this climate mess in the first place has perhaps seen some sense.
The CEO of Total, the world’s fourth largest oil conglomerate and not a company known for it’s environmental conscience has turned the table on its head, directly attacking and condemning the efforts of Shell and Gazprom in exploring the melting Arctic for new hydrocarbon reserves. CEO Christophe de Margerie openly admitted the high risks and potential dangers associated with offshore drilling in the Arctic, or anywhere for that matter, but it’s how he phrased the next part that slightly lessens the impact of this revelation.
According to de Margerie, Total will not be carrying out any exploration in the polar region, as a spillage “would do too much damage to the image of the company” and thus is not worth the risk.
So it seems that Total is scared of drilling the Arctic because of something not really connected to environmental or green issues whatsoever; it just doesn’t want to tarnish the record of its oh-so untarnished reputation as an oil demon. What’s instantly and obviously worrying is that there is absolutely no mention of the risks such a spill would have on the ecology, species, humans and general environment of the Arctic region, a highly sensitive and fragile part of the planet, and one which is already taking a considerable beating from a warming climate. It just shows that even when these behemoths of the fossil fuel world seem to be doing something right for once, there’s generally not a pure and environmentally-friendly motive behind it, but just a way of saving their own skins, not those of the ones at risk.
However, if the threat of ruining their rep in the same way that BP has blackened its name with the Deepwater Horizon disaster is strong enough to stop them from drilling up north, then I can somewhat condone it. Hell, it may even be useful to use this idea as a force to turn other companies such as Shell against the idea of drilling, but this is a whole new mission impossible of itself.