Dilemma: to drill or not to drill?
Local communities are much concerned as this year Shell Oil has got a permission to start drilling works in Point Hope.
On one hand, the Inuit are dependent on the food supply from the Arctic waters that are mainly whale meat, muktuk, fish and polar bears’ meat. Fishing and hunting are central in the Inupiat way of life and people fear that drilling will affect the food chain. It could influence the routes of whale migration and keep them further from the coastal waters. This way of life has been maintained for ages and people’s fear of losing it is natural.
On the other hand, the level of unemployment is high and some are just lacking food to eat. Drilling works with Shell could bring many jobs for locals and ensure at least a reasonable level of income.
Apart from the fear of the marine mammals’ migration, there is a risk of oil spills in the region. The question is what impact it will have on people’s subsistence. However, extracting oil off the coast of Point Hope could make a big difference to America in general as the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline is beginning to run low, says Pete Slaiby, the vice-president of Shell in Alaska.
Preserving biodiversity of the region and ensuring its economic prosperity is a double-challenging task for Shell in the coming years.