Greens worry about spill in remote arctic

Jan. 18, 2011 at 10:08 AM
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MOSCOW, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Russian environmentalists say they'll ask BP and Rosneft shareholders to block joint oil-drilling plans in the Arctic, saying they fear a risk of disaster.

If an oil spill occurred in the remote area, environmentalists said it could be unreachable for up to nine months, The Moscow Times reported Tuesday.

"We will work with shareholders and the general public to make sure everyone understands how risky this is," said Sergei Knizhnikov, World Wildlife Fund-Russia coordinator on environmental policy for oil and gas.

BP and Rosneft announced last week they agreed to jointly explore and develop a 48,263-square-mile area of the Kara Sea on Russia's continental shelf. The areas the companies plan to explore are navigable 100 days a year because of ice, and environmentalists said they fear a spill would be impossible to address until the spring thaw.

"There is no technology today that can clean up oil in ice conditions," Knizhnikov said.

The Kara Sea provides a refuge for polar bears, walruses and several commercial fish species, environmentalists said.

A BP spokesman told The Moscow Times the company "is interested in developing the Arctic in an environmentally responsible manner and we believe that we can carry out this exploration program safely and responsibly."

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