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the taste of oil

We all know the price we pay at the pump is far from the true cost of oil. We casually slide the nozzle into our tanks and oscillate between comments about the staggering jump or all time low cost of gasoline. What we rarely consider is the route in which each drop of oil takes to appear effortlessly at the pump for our disposal. The global population is increasing, and in return, so is the demand on Earth’s natural resources.

Drilling in the arctic circle is what they are calling ‘hot’. Personally, I think it’s a rather icy venture but then again my daily life doesn’t exactly parallel with Sir Bill Gammell, chairman and founder of Carin Energy. The Scottish company Carin, which launched its campaign in 2007, lost over $1.2bn last year when none of the four oil wells found commercial quantities of oil along Greenland’s coastline. Although a substantial loss, this defeat has not slowed their campaign. Along with Carin, fellow oil tycoons Shell, Statoil and the Danish companies Dong and Maersk Oil are in talks with the Greenlandic government about the upcoming licensing round, which will sell plots of sea floor to the highest bidder.

The United States Geological Survey calculates that the Arctic has about 13 percent of the worlds undiscovered conventional oil and about 30 percent of undiscovered natural gas. Despite a seemingly large wealth of oil and natural gases, energy costs of extraction could be twice as most onshore operations. Cost, feasibility and the potential harm to these pristine environments are crucial questions, and they are not all being addressed. The battle between the global oil industries and the environmental groups grows stronger yet. Many believe that drilling and mining the fragile arctic landscape could have irreversible damage to a crucial part of our worlds ecosystems. Contrarily, the oil companies think that Greenland and its surrounding seas are sitting upon the world’s largest undiscovered oil, and they are anxious to capitalize on it.

Greenland’s vast and seemingly empty landscape is three times the size of texas. Its size and stature many seem big for the 57,000 people who inhabit the island, however a number of important other species thrive upon the icy wilderness. Heavily dependent upon Denmark for subsides and governmental regulation, the Greenlandic nation strives for a leap in independence. Greenland’s prime minister Kuupik Kleist states, “We are heavily dependent on grants from the outside. Half of the public budgets are derived form money from Denmark and the European Union. It’s no wonder that we are focusing very strongly on economic self sufficiency.” Selling plots of sea floor for $2bn, the Prime Minister is in favor of oil drilling, as he see’s it is the countries only way to financial independence.

Many implications of drilling in the arctic are at work. The potential of an oil spill could permanently change life on and around Greenland. Greenlanders depend solely on species from the land and sea, and if a spill were to rendered their oceans uninhabitable, it would take years for nature to regenerate. Another major factor is the short time frame in which drilling is actually possible. Due to the brutal and frozen winters, only three months a year present themselves as viable for drilling. There is a huge price tag to build and maintain the oil rigs stationed in the arctic waters while the sea’s are only ice free for a slim three months.

Steen Bangsgarrd, Greenland resident and Arctic Consultant mentions another important aspect of drilling in the arctic, “One thing that I haven’t heard mentioned or debated by the politicians, is the amount of people required to run an oil operation. It is said that if a country produces 1 million barrels of oil a day, which is not that much for an oil producing country, it takes 10,000 workers to cope. Then you have to look at the question of where do you get these people? And if you also get huge mining activities here and there and everywhere, you need more people to mine the aluminum. You can only find them from one place, and that is from outside Greenland..Because 2/3 of the Greenlandic population is unskilled and a large percent never graduate from high school. You have an unqualified workforce. So Greenland will have to look elsewhere. How will importing thousands of people with different cultural traditions affect Greenland’s future?”

History tends to repeat itself. Desperate for independence, countries become exploited and the natural resources destroyed. Will it also be true for the arctic?

26 Comments Post a comment

    Great post, this issue deserves to be heard. And, as so many have said, great photos too.

    May 21, 2013
  2. Hi, I am nominating you for the Inspiring Blog award, because you have great Photography for one and your topics are great. I for one believe in what you are talking about.

    November 29, 2012
  3. This is Really Really so so nice. Great Great Thanks to you. How can you do this.

    June 27, 2012
  4. AJ #

    Very interesting discussion, and I loved the juxtaposition of the pristine photos with the topic at hand.

    June 23, 2012
  5. gorgeous fotos, and so glad you’re adding your voices to the oil issue – it’s huge, but I think too often environmentalists don’t bring forward a unique, personal argument. Those are the most effective ones! Keep up the good work, thx.

    June 22, 2012
  6. First of all … thanks for the stunning photos and for sharing your adventure. Oil rules the world – if the money only went back to Greenland and their people, but I think Denmark what to see themselves as a new Norway – that has done so well out their oil. Could be wrong. We, Swedes we don’t have that problem *smile In all honesty I don’t think Denmark look after Greenland as they really should do – but it’s a thin line about help and help in a right way.

    June 22, 2012
  7. A thought provoking post with exceptional images.
    It’s easy to imagine everything that could go wrong with oil drilling in such an environment.
    Your image and word explorations are terrific.

    June 21, 2012
  8. Great pictures.

    June 21, 2012
  9. Nice post and great photos. Maybe the solution is Greenland keeps selling exploratory drilling permits for oil companies to find nothing – if only it were so easy. Our world faces tough problems. Thanks for a thoughtful, informative post.

    June 21, 2012
  10. Thanks for discussing this topic with intelligence and sensitivity…. It’s heartbreaking, needing to be addressed on a global scale so that every citizen understands completely the ramifications. Your beautiful images hammer in the point perfectly, and poignantly.

    June 21, 2012
    • Thank you FeyGirl. Your comments always make me smile. So happy to know that other people out there are listening

      June 21, 2012
    • Very much so. :) I live in an area where oil drilling still occurs in an ecosystem unique to *only* this region, literally… And we must consistently fight the presence of ORVs in endangered panther habitat. There’s only one Everglades, yet we insist on treating it like Disney.

      June 21, 2012
  11. extra ordinary photography….nice touch..

    June 21, 2012
  12. extra ordinary photography…nice touch…

    June 21, 2012
  13. What kind of camera did you use, might I ask?

    June 21, 2012
  14. Your photographs as exquisite! What is that amazing ice formation with the red-brown tints?
    After spending time the the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, I think it is tragic that drilling may occur there.

    June 20, 2012
    • Thanks Yokun. Your kindness is well received. To anyone who has spent time in the Arctic (as well as those who haven’t) see’s the complexity of this situation in such a magical place.

      June 20, 2012
    • Oh, and the red tints in the ice are from dirt and rock. These ice caves are right by an ice cap, which can get pretty dirty!

      June 20, 2012
  15. PhotosAbitibi #

    Magnifique !

    June 20, 2012
  16. Beautiful Photos – loving every photo! Thanks so much for sharing, especially the sled dogs:)

    June 20, 2012
  17. Justin and Michelle, thank you for sharing this insight. You bring home the point and your photography is brilliant. I’ve gone ahead and shared your work on some of my social sites.

    June 20, 2012
    • Thank you John. We strive to share the truth and provide some beautiful photography to make it easier to swallow. We appreciate your support.

      June 20, 2012

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