24 November 2014, News Wires – Supermajor Shell is joining a host of governmental bodies for an Arctic study in part aimed at aiding future oil and gas developments in an area between the US and Canada.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) of the US and partners in the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) have awarded the study that will in particular look at the effect of the influx of from water from Canada’s Mackenzie River into the Beaufort Sea.
The Marine Arctic Ecosystem Study (Mares) – to be co-ordinated and planned by BOEM in conjunction with the likes of Shell, the US Coast Guard and the US Arctic Research Commission –will “investigate the interrelationship among the physical, biological, chemical and social science components of the Beauforst Sea ecosystem” from Barrow in Alaska to the Mackenzie River delta.
Stantec Consulting Services is the actual recipient of the award, which will also be conducted in conjunction with the US Geological Survey, US Integrated Ocean Observing System, Marine Mammal Commission, National Science Foundation, National Ocean & Atmospheric Administration and the Office of Naval Reserach.
Stantec will lead a team of scientists and technicians on both sides of the border in a project that is planned to last at least five years and will be steered and reviewed by “an independent scientific review board of internationally recognised experts”, BOEM said on Friday.
BOEM acting director Walter Cruickshank said: “With widespread interest in the Arctic, including potential oil and gas leasing and development, we’re looking to significantly expand our knowledge of the Beaufort Sea ecosystem to inform our decision-making.”
“The overarching goals of the study are to better understand the interrelationship of the physical, biological, chemical, and human systems, including traditional knowledge, of the Beaufort Sea and to advance scientific prediction capabilities for linkages between marine life, human uses, sea ice, atmospheric and oceanic processes and river discharge,” BOEM continued.
“It is important for BOEM and its NOPP partners to study and monitor areas known for high biological productivity and prevalent subsistence use to ensure their protection.”
The Alaska government recently confirmed the award of two Beaufort Sea leases pending from a lease sale in 2011, but did not identify the recipient or recipients.
However, in 2011 Shell Alaska was one of the biggest bidders in the Beaufort Sea lease sale and was awarded 18 tracts at the time.
Its plans for Arctic drilling in that region have been on hold since then, while the dispute over who had jurisdiction over the land went unresolved.