image credit: Greenpeace UK (Flickr CC)

Poor BP. After the Deepwater Horizon mishap they have been tarred by their own brush, so to speak.

But lets face it, despite BP’s exceptionally bad safety record, it’s a bad brush all around; whether you’re a pelican in the Gulf of Mexico or a person living beside Alberta’s tar sands or in the Niger River Delta.

Of course BP has the well-deserved worst rap at this point in time and so they won’t be able to share in the spoils of the next – and probably last – oil frontier: the pristine icy waters of the Arctic. The company has announced that it will not be bidding this year to drill off the coast of Greenland.

From an article in the Guardian:

The setback, which follows the announcement this week of a major find in the region by British rival Cairn Energy, is the first sign that the Gulf of Mexico disaster may have permanently damaged BP’s ability to operate — not just in US waters, but in other environmentally-sensitive parts of the world.

BP currently has Arctic operations in Alaska, but may sell them off to pay estimated Deepwater Horizon-related costs of over $30 billion.

So in moves Scotland’s Cairn Energy, who earlier this week announced the discovery of hydrocarbon’s beneath Greenland’s waters.

At the moment the drive for clean energy is about geo-political situations as well as economics and climate change. So Western governments are moving towards exploiting untapped oil reserves in the Arctic.

From an article in The Herald Scotland:

In theory, this pressure can be relieved by more concerted efforts to develop renewables. Yet it is also producing more incentives to permit dirty technologies such as extracting oil from tar sands and to explore more marginal fields in deeper waters and more remote and pristine locations.

Perhaps no wars will be fought over the Arctic, but it is a remote, sensitive and perilous place to drill. Western governments know this, but they also know that the global demand for oil is at an all-time high, despite climate change talks and ongoing disasters in the Gulf of Mexico, Nigeria, Colombia, Ecuador, etc.