Photos Show Reality of Arctic Drilling
October 14, 2012
As climate change opens up arctic oil fields, it seems that among Global warming’s winners may be those oil executives living in gated communities near Hudson Bay, and profiting as the rest of the world burns. Good job, guys.
The general public has not seen images of Shell Oil Co.’s Arctic drilling rig, the Kulluk, on site off the coast of Alaska, and a sense of the rig’s proximity to protected lands has been hard to grasp. Until now.
Oregon-based photographer Gary Braasch flew to Alaska, chartered a plane in the town of Deadhorse, far above the Arctic Circle, and flew out to the rigs. His photographs provide, for the first time, a sense of perspective of the Kulluk rig in its environment, 12 miles offshore of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
“The location has been published for years in Shell’s permits,” he said in a phone interview. “We just went out there and, sure enough, there it was. But having the landscape just behind it was so amazing, and I don’t think the public has realized how close it is.”
The photos show the circular rig alone in the water. In the not-to-distant background of several images is the refuge’s flat coastal plain, an area thought to be oil-rich but that has remained, so far, off limits to drillers. The Canning River Delta, part of the refuge that has been protected from drilling in many Congressional battles, is visible just beyond the rig.