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Aleut Story

Interior Department Studies Possible Effects Of Chukchi Oil Spill

April 14, 2011

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The Interior Department has released a memo that looks at the potential for a large oil spill from a well blowout in the Chukchi Sea. The Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy and Management selected a study area with geology that would produce high flow rates and then modeled what would happen during a blowout scenario like the Gulf of Mexico spill. The analysis shows oil flowing at a rate of 60 thousand barrels per day initially, dropping off to 19,000 barrels per day after 3 months. The World Wildlife Fund requested the memo.

Shell Oil has been trying to drill exploratory wells in the arctic for several summers. Their proposal imagines a worst case scenario oil spill that releases only 5,500 barrels per day, far lower than the Interior department estimate.

But Shell Vice President Pete Slaiby says that’s because they are planning to drill a very different type of prospect in the Arctic Ocean. He says the reservoirs the company wants to drill have much lower worse case discharges, and the company will have the assets in place to handle any spill and has historically been over prepared for potential spills.

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