Magazine article New Internationalist

Hotspots! [Opposition to Oil & Gas Development in Alaska, Sudan, Chad, Cameroon, Sumatra, Nigeria and Tibet]

Magazine article New Internationalist

Hotspots! [Opposition to Oil & Gas Development in Alaska, Sudan, Chad, Cameroon, Sumatra, Nigeria and Tibet]

Article excerpt

[Graph Not Transcribed]

From the Arctic Ocean to the Caspian Sea, hundreds of companies, large and small, continue their relentless quest for oil and gas, all of them hoping to strike it rich. It's a romantic, risky business and the costs are steep - and not just financially. The highest price is paid by local cultures and the natural environment. In quite a few spots the petroleum industry is meeting stiff opposition.

Alaska, US

Major Companies: BPAmoco (Britain/US) gets most of the attention but if and when the Bush administration opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil exploration all the majors will be clamouring to be in on the action.

Project: There is already significant oil exploration in Alaska, notably at Prudhoe Bay just 130 kilometres west of the ANWR on the Arctic shoreline where more than 2,600 square kilometres of fragile tundra have been turned into a sprawling industrial zone. The ANWR is a pristine 7.5 million hectare refuge sometimes called 'America's Serengeti' because of its spectacular natural diversity. The oil lobby and their supporters in Washington are pushing to overturn a 20-year moratorium on drilling in the area.

[Graph Not Transcribed]

Impact: Environmentalists and local native people are outraged by plans to drill in the ANWR. No wonder: the oil companies record in the Arctic is not impressive. The Exxon-Valdez disaster in 1989 spilled 11 million gallons of Alaskan crude oil and in the same year 1,314 oil spills were recorded on Alaska's north shore. According to the US Public Interest Research Group BPAmoco was responsible for 104 oil spills in the region between January 1997 and March 1998. The reserve is home to one of the world's largest caribou herds as well as to grizzlies, polar bears, ringed seals, wolves, musk-ox and 135 species of migratory birds. The Gwich'in native people fear the development will destroy both the caribou and their ancient culture.

Opposition: The Bush administration, led by Alaskan Republican Senator Frank Murkowski, is acting quickly to open the ANWR. The Democrats and US environmentalists are opposed to the plan and polls show the majority of Americans also reject the move. The US Geological Survey estimates that total reserves in the ANWR equal a paltry six months worth of oil for the US at current consumption rates.

Contact: Greenpeace USA, 702 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20001, US. E-mail: greenpeace.usa@wdc.greenpeace.org

Sudan

Major Companies: Talisman Energy (Canada), Petronas (Malaysia's national oil company), TotalFinaElf (France/Belgium), BPAmoco (Britain/US), Chinese National Petroleum Corporation, Lundin Oil (Sweden).

[Graph Not Transcribed]

Project: There are active wells and exploration continues in the oil-producing region of southern Sudan. The main consortium, the Greater Nile Operating Company (GNOC), has sent about $500 million to the brutal regime of President Omar Bashir in Khartoum.

Impact: The World Food Programme says 36,000 people have been displaced by oil development in southern Sudan as the National Islamic Front (NIF) attempts to wipe out insurgent non-Arab peoples in the southern half of the country. In January 2000, a Canadian Government sponsored study found massive human-rights violations and concluded that 'oil is exacerbating conflict in Sudan'. The African nation is already under UN sanction for terrorism and human-rights violations. The UN Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan found a 'systematic policy of bombing civilians'. President Bashir says he will use oil revenues to buy the arms he needs to win the war.

Opposition: There has been widespread condemnation of oil company support for the bloody Sudanese regime. The same army which is responsible for the scorched-earth policy across the south also protects corporate pipelines and drilling operations. In Canada, Talisman Energy has come under intense scrutiny by churches, labour unions and non-governmental organizations but has so far refused to suspend operations. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.