Mark Llobrera

The Guardian: “Big oil’s answer to melting Arctic: cooling the ground so it can keep drilling”

Another Big Oil story, this time from The Guardian’s Climate Countdown series:

The oil company ConocoPhillips had a problem.

It wanted to pump 160,000 more barrels of oil each day from a new project on Alaska’s North Slope. But the fossil fuels it and others produce are leading to global heating, and the Arctic is melting. The firm’s drilling infrastructure could be at risk atop thawing and unstable permafrost.

A recent environmental review of the project describes the company’s solution: cooling devices that will chill the ground beneath its structures, insulating them from the effects of the climate crisis.

All this against a backdrop of deep, climate-driven changes to local wildlife and indigenous communities:

The North Slope is already warming at disconcerting speed. Utqiagvik, the region’s hub town, is one of the fastest-warming communities in the nation, with its five record warmest winters all coming since 2014.

Amid record high temperatures and record low sea ice last year, crews in Utqiagvik had to wait weeks longer than usual for the arrival of the bowhead whales that they hunt – and which make up a substantial portion of North Slope residents’ diets.