Coast Guard patrols Alaska amid oil boom

July 23, 2012 at 9:08 AM   |   Comments

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska, July 23 (UPI) -- A U.S. Coast Guard official said a stronger arctic presence is needed as international oil companies target the coast of Alaska.

Shell aims to start drilling operations in the region once sea ice clears. The company said work could begin as early as next month and has chartered a commercial airliner to bring personnel from Anchorage to drilling sites further north.

U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Kevin Riddle told The New York Times an increased presence was needed as the region gets more crowded.

"More traffic up there means more people," he said. "If we don't have a presence up there, how are we going to respond adequately?"

Shell's plans for offshore Alaska sparked criticism from environmental groups like Greenpeace who worry about the potential damage to the pristine arctic environment. The advocacy group was barred from interfering directly with Shell's operations, however.

Shell, nevertheless, was the target of an Internet hoax carried out by Greenpeace. On its blog, the group said it received a stern warning from Shell's legal counsel regarding its demonstrations against the supermajor.

Greenpeace spokesman Joe Symth told the Times that there "not to be any issues from our end."

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