As our thirst for oil grows, companies are stretching the limits of depth and technology to drill wherever and however. Shell has recently received conditional approval to begin exploratory drilling in one of the world's most environmentally sensitive and valuable ecosystems - the Arctic Ocean. Drilling will begin this summer in northern Alaska's Chukchi Sea, leading many to wonder if this is such a good idea.
What would happen if Shell caused a spill, like last month's event in Nigeria, in the waters of Alaska hundreds of miles away from any Coast Guard station or port? We superimposed the resulting 350-square-mile Nigeria oil slick on the Chukchi Sea in the area where Shell will be drilling:
|Hypothetical 350 square-mile slick originating from a Shell lease block in the Chukchi Sea|