Shell decision grants Arctic temporary reprieve

Additional protections needed for fragile Arctic waters


  • Peter Voser, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, is reported today to have announced that the oil giant has abandoned plans for exploratory drilling in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea in 2011.
  • Despite the lack of infrastructure and cleanup technology that make oil spill response in the Arctic unfeasible, Shell intends to resume drilling plans for the Beaufort Sea in 2012.
  • Defenders urges the Obama administration to carefully scrutinize Shell’s proposal, rather than rubber-stamp drilling operations. Such scrutiny is not only warranted by the risk of the undertaking, but is required by law.  
WASHINGTON (02/03/2011) -

The following is a statement by Richard Charter, senior policy advisor for marine programs at Defenders of Wildlife:

“High risk offshore drilling in America's Arctic Ocean cannot be considered a responsible course until we learn to clean up the inevitable oil spills in the region's prevailing darkness, severe storms and broken sea ice, and until we have a Coast Guard presence closer than a thousand miles away.

“In the lingering aftermath of the BP Gulf spill catastrophe, and a similar shallow-water rig blowout in Australia, we simply cannot afford to invite an even worse disaster in the Arctic Ocean.”


Learn more about the threats offshore drilling poses to the Arctic.


Richard Charter, (707) 875-2345
Caitlin Leutwiler, (202) 772-3226,

You may also be interested in:

Fact Sheet
The North American River Otter is the only river otter found north of Mexico. Its luscious pelt, which was a staple of the French fur trade in the 1700-1800s, has drawn hunters for hundreds of years.
Fact Sheet
Whales belong to the order cetacea, which includes whales, dolphins and porpoises. Whales are divided into two suborders: baleen and toothed whales.
Polar Bears, © Joan Robins
Species at Risk
Often referred to as the largest land carnivores in the world, polar bears are actually marine mammals, spending much of their time on Arctic sea ice hundreds of miles from land.