Total head argues against Arctic oil exploration

Many oil companies have started to actively pursue oil exploration in the Arctic Circle as some of the polar ice has started to recede.

But Total chief executive officer Christophe de Margerie recently told The Financial Times that the oil industry should be avoiding the region.

The U.S. Geological Survey believes that the Arctic could hold 13 percent of the world's remaining undiscovered, technically recoverable oil, and as much as 30 percent of the undiscovered natural gas.

However, de Margerie insists that the region poses too many challenges given the sensitive nature of its environment.

"Oil on Greenland would be a disaster," de Margerie told the news source. "A leak would do too much damage to the image of the company."

Consistently low temperatures, ice floes and other hazards make drilling in the region difficult, and would cause similar problems for cleanup crews in the event of a spill.

Royal Dutch Shell announced the delay of its drilling efforts in the Arctic until next year, in large part because of problems experienced earlier this year with the company's containment vessel, designed to help prevent spills from spreading.

The prospects for oil exploration in the Arctic are detailed at PennEnergy's Research area.

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