Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cairn fails to find Arctic oil

Cairn Energy sent its “Greenland Operational Update” this morning at 7.05am with news to investors of its Arctic drilling. Despite its best efforts to put a positive spin on the news, the important words stood out:
“Plugged”, and “abandoned” for its first two drill sites. “Primary objectives were not reached” for number three, with “further re-entry work depending on the results of further evaluation”.
The media were more blunt, with headlines saying “Cairn Energy fails in Arctic oil drilling”.
That’s good news for us, good news for the planet, but very bad news for Cairn’s boss Bill Gammell. As a self-styled tough guy who enjoys giving lectures on taking “the brave pill” to make difficult decisions, today’s pill must have been very bitter and hard to swallow.
He’s been leading the media and investors up the garden path for months now over his company’s Arctic finds – which is why the company’s shares dropped when the truth came out this morning.
Gammell’s sidekick of spin, Mike Watts, was quoted earlier this month saying their Arctic drilling was “a royal flush” and that a “commercial discovery will transform the region”, ending with the revealing statement that their success was “about as good an outcome as we could have expected”.
You can be sure he’s not saying that now.
Few believed Cairn’s earlier blags about its oil finds, least of all the workers on the Arctic rig itself, who said the initial discovery was little more than you’d get if you drilled a hole in your back garden. But that didn’t stop Gammell beating his chest in deluded defiance of all the evidence.
But ultimately – oil discovery or not - Cairn shouldn’t be in the Arctic in the first place.
That’s why we took the Esperanza in August to stop Cairn’s Arctic drilling and highlight the madness of boring holes in the seabed under the freezing waters, where any spill could take up to three years to stop. Oil accidents are nothing new to Bill Gammell - ask his neighbours in India, whose farms and livelihoods have been destroyed by Cairn’s toxic spills.
But three years is not only how long it might take to stop an Arctic oil spill. It’s also how long we’d be able to burn the Arctic oil if all the estimated reserves could be tapped. Three years. Only. And if we burn all that oil we’re set for a five to six degree rise in average global temperatures.
Cairn spent $185 million dollars drilling these holes in the Arctic and has nothing to show for it.  That’s money that could have been spent investing in the clean energy technologies that could power our future and deliver profits.
So while we celebrate the news today that Bill Gammell has not found oil in the Arctic, we’ll keep doing all we can to make sure that companies like Cairn and BP stop gambling with our future and go beyond oil.

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