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Arctic Drilling Is Expensive. Ask the Coast Guard

James Burgess
Thursday, 19 Jul 2012 | 1:51 PM ET

Royal Dutch Shellis one of six energy companies hoping to begin drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic next month, and the U.S. Coast Guard is billions of dollars short of what it needs to monitor and protect those operations, according to a report.

US Coast Guard Arctic
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US Coast Guard Arctic

According to a joint report by the Congressional Research Team and the Coast Guard, it lacks the necessary communication and navigation systems for the Arctic, and will need at least $3 billion invested in new vessels and equipment, if it hopes to function effectively within the cold, rough seas of the area.

Global warming has led to large amounts of ice melting, which in turn has opened up new areas off Alaska’s north coast, ready for oil and gas exploration. Since 2005 Shell has spent $4.5 billion preparing for its upcoming Arctic operations.

The Coast Guard will need to follow the companies exploring in the Alaskan waters, in order to defend U.S. interests, carry out sea rescues when needed, and organize responses to oil spills. The problem is that the Coast Guard is not equipped for Arctic operations.

Admiral Robert Papp, the Coast Guard commandant, said in an interview with Bloomberg, that “the Coast Guard has zero capability in the Arctic. If we are going to have a permanent presence there, it’s going to require some investment. We don’t have the infrastructure in place right now.”

—This story originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

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