get yr canada on
Deploy the hyper-intelligent, genre-bending film director!
Last week Shell announced it would send a fleet of ships into the Beaufort Sea to launch an oil drilling program. It is speculated that beneath the Beaufort Sea lie 8 billion barrels of oil and 30 trillion cubic feet of gas. The drilling is to take place 30 miles off the Alaskan coast, where despite protests from local communities the US Minerals Management Service OK'd the project. If Shell hits oil in commercially recoverable amounts, other companies are expected to follow. They include Repsol of Spain, Norsk Hydro of Norway and Conoco-Phillips of the US.
Oil companies long have eyed the Arctic as an untapped source of oil and gas, but costly drilling and impossible physical and jurisdictional hurdles in transporting oil and gas down through Canada to the continental US.
The rapid melting of Arctic ice has introduced an entirely new factor into this play. To the north and East of the Beaufort Sea, the fabled Northwest Passage hits the North Pacific. At the eastern most end, it meets the North Atlantic, passing between Greenland and Iceland. For centuries this passage has been frozen over for all but a short time during the summer.
Now there is renewed speculation the passage will be open and navigable within a decade for big tankers and container ships. This ought to bring a boom in shipping because the passage cuts by one-third the distance from Europe to Asia. Commercial fishing boats will be able to get at vast schools of fish hitherto unreachable because of the ice. The world's stock of fish has long been predicted to decline due to overharvesting.
At the same time, it will open yet another wild frontier in the far, far north, with nations fighting each other over fishing boundaries along with environmentalists trying to save the poles from marine pollution, and pirates darting in and out of a maze of islands. Both Russia and Canada consider their northern sea routes as national territory, but the U.S. views them as international waterways.
But while the US desires the Northwest Passage to be an international ocean highway, in reality, the US Navy already is figuring out how to control the region lest terrorists use it to launch an attack Research points out that policing the area will be difficult because there are no good communications satellites in orbit that cover the North Pole.
The Canadians, who usually get down for Washington, this time are determined not to be ordered around by Bush or anybody else in Washington.
Slightly off-topic, but there was time when I would get this sort of thing in my email inbox via the Village Voice, until it was hijacked by the Phoenix, Arizona-based chain of weeklies, New Times Media, champion of the bored-with-everything-especially-your-social-justice-struggle style of writing. Alas, Ridgeway was canned, and shit-for-brains New Times chief Michael Lacey showed his essential Buddhist nature by demonstrating that all things are in transition always, taking one of the country's pillars of progressive journalism and dumbing the Voice down down down.