Interview by. James Stafford of Oilprice.com
Oilprice.com: We’ll start with the Arctic Sea because so much of your work has focused on this area. Right now, the talk here is of vast opportunities, and vast environmental concern. How can we balance these two, and what is at stake?
Fen Montaigne: I am in the go-slow camp when it comes to developing the Arctic, whether it be the region’s fossil fuel riches, its minerals, or its fisheries. I think the problems that Shell has experienced in its early attempts to drill off Alaska’s coast bolster the case for a cautious approach. Cleaning up an oil spill in that environment would be far, far more difficult than in the Gulf of Mexico, and a spill’s effects would be more severe and long lasting in a cold-water environment than in warm waters.
The Arctic nations — as well as other interested countries, such as China — need to carefully survey and assess the resources of the Arctic basin and draft a conservative plan for their exploitation. That may include a ban on drilling for oil and gas in large sections of the Arctic.