Safety & Environment

The U.S. Arctic is home to stunning natural beauty and wildlife, and a native community of people who have subsisted and thrived in this challenging climate for thousands of years. Recognizing these realities and taking a thoughtful approach to development has allowed the development of Arctic energy to succeed for decades.

It is often said that the Arctic environment is not well understood. That simply isn’t true. To date, the federal government has funded almost $450 million in studies across Alaska through the Environmental Studies Program, which has produced over 1,000 technical reports and peer-reviewed publications.

The following studies and reports give context to the broad understanding of how traditional knowledge, science, environment, and America’s energy future can coexist.

Spill Response

Safe and Sustainable Offshore Operations (2011)
This working paper of the NPC North American Resource Development Study describes methods to achieve offshore oil and gas resources development. Arctic oil drilling sustainable measures are described on pages 22, 33 and 35.
NPC- Resource Development

Field Trials of in-situ Oil Spill Countermeasures in Ice-Infested Waters (2011)
This report describes an oil spill response technique in ice-infested waters that offers advantages as a spill countermeasure for use under Arctic conditions including reduced number of personnel required for its application, no need for waste disposal sites and cost-effectiveness.
American Petroleum Institute: International Oil Spill Conference Proceedings (IOSC) (Vol. 2011, No. 1, p. abs160)

Joint industry program on oil spill contingency for Arctic and ice-covered waters (2010)
Ice-covered waters and Arctic conditions possess other challenges for oil spill response. The Joint Industry Program on oil spill contingency for Arctic and ice-covered waters has developed solutions for oil spill response in these waters.

Advances in remote sensing for oil spill disaster management: state-of-the-art sensors technology for oil spill surveillance (2008)
Oil spill surveillance is a crucial part of oil spill disaster management. Developments in remote sensing technologies can help identify causes of pollution or minor spills before there is large-scale damage.
The University of Calgary (Alberta, Canada) appearing in Sensors [Journal]

Bioremediation of Marine Oil Spills
Oil spills are a problem in cold environments. Bioremediation is a promising method for remediation since it is operative and cost-effective in removing oil with less undue environmental damages. Bioremediation is a process that uses microorganisms to mitigate or eliminate environmental hazards and attempts to extract contaminated soil and water.
Iowa State University

Analysis of oil spill trends in the US and Worldwide (2001)
Contrary to popular belief, the number of oil spills in the US and worldwide, as well as the amount spilled have decreased significantly over the past two decades. Since the 1980s, US oil spillage has decreased by 35 percent. The decrease in the United States is due in part to reduced accident rates, preventative measures and increased concerns for financial liability.
American Petroleum Institute

Worldwide Analysis of Marine Oil Spill Cleanup Cost Factors (Presented at: Arctic and Marine Oilspill Program Technical Seminar (2000)
There is a cleanup cost estimation modeling technique that can be applied to marine spills of different types. The model is developed from updated cost data collected from case studies of over 300 spills in 40 nations. The model takes into account oil type, location, spill size, cleanup methodology and shoreline oiling to deduce a per-unit cleanup cost figure.
Environmental Research Consulting

Review of Oil Spill Remote Sensing (1997)
Airborne and space-borne sensors are reviewed and evaluated in terms of their usefulness in responding to oil spills. These sensors have been around even in the 1990s. Recent developments and trends in sensor technology are summarized.
Marine Pollution Bulletin


Joint Monitoring Program in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas (2012)
This report presents a comprehensive overview of offshore exploration activities conducted by the oil and gas industry in the Alaskan Chukchi and Beaufort seas during the 2012 Arctic open-water season and the potential influence of those activities on marine mammals.
National Marine Fisheries Service United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Distribution and Relative Abundance of Marine Mammals in the Alaskan Chukchi and Beaufort Seas (2011)
This report describes field activities and data analyses for the Aerial Surveys of Arctic Marine Mammals (ASAMM) project conducted during summer and fall 2011. Animals were seen in strong figures and trends were overall positive.
National Marine Mammal Laboratory at Alaska Fisheries Science Center

When to drill? Trigger prices for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (2005)
There may be a social net benefit of drilling in ANWR. Trigger prices may justify field development and a potential loss of amenity dividend.
Cornell University appearing in [Journal of] Resource and Energy Economics, 27(4), 273-286

Remote sensing of vegetation and land-cover change in Arctic Tundra Ecosystems (2004)
This paper contains case studies that demonstrate that ground-level sensors on stationary or moving track platforms and wide-swath imaging sensors on polar orbiting satellites are particularly useful for capturing optical remote sensing data at sufficient frequency to study tundra vegetation dynamics and changes for the cloud prone Arctic.
Department of Geography, San Diego State University appearing in Remote Sensing of Environment (Journal)

Climate Change

Community collaboration and climate change research in the Canadian Arctic (2009)
Arctic communities are already experiencing and adapting to environmental and socio-cultural changes. This paper draws on the experiences of researchers working with communities across the Canadian Arctic, together with the expertise of Inuit organizations, Northern research institutes and community partners, to outline key considerations for effectively engaging Arctic communities in collaborative research
Department of Geography, University of Guelph- Canada appearing in Polar Research [Journal]

Arctic Ocean synthesis: analysis of climate change impacts in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas with strategies for future research (2008)
There is urgency to integrate and synthesize the present state of knowledge of the biology and oceanography of this region to study climate change. This paper discusses the findings of studies done to observe climate change trends in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas with strategies for future research.
Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Incorporating uncertainty about species’ potential distributions under climate change into the selection of conservation areas with a case study from the Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska (2008)
This analysis also shows that there is synergism between oil and gas development and climate change. Further, this analysis quantifies the tradeoff between development and maintenance of suitable habitat for at-risk species.
Biodiversity and Bio-cultural Conservation Laboratory, Section of Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin appearing in Biological Conservation [Journal]

Reducing Vulnerability to Climate Change in the Arctic: The Case of Nunavut, Canada (2007)
Research conducted with the communities of Arctic Bay and Igloolik in Nunavut identified key areas where policy can help Inuit reduce their vulnerability to climate change, focusing on the renewable resource harvesting sector.
Department of Geography, McGill University- Canada appearing in The Arctic Journal

Building Resilience and Adaptation to Manage Arctic Change (2006)
The report argues that recent increases in oil prices produce new stresses in coastal zone management in parts of the Arctic, but also provide incentives to reduce fossil fuel emissions that contribute to Arctic change.
Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska, Fairbanks appearing in A Journal of the Human Environment

The potential of solar electric power for meeting future US energy needs: a comparison of projections of solar electric energy generation and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil production (2004)
This paper compares the potential contribution of solar electric power in the form of photovoltaics to meet future US energy demand with the projected volume of oil estimated to be available in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, University of Delaware appearing in Energy Policy [Journal]

Ocean Ecosystem

Satellite Tracking of Western Arctic Bowhead Whales: movements and analysis from 2006 to 2012 Final Report (2014)
The western Arctic stock of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) is critical for the nutritional and cultural health of Alaska Natives and it is important in the marine ecosystem as a consumer of zooplankton. Marine seismic surveys are commonly used during oil and gas exploration and have the potential to disrupt bowhead communication, feeding, and migration. The study found no statistical relationship between whale behavior and distance from the seismic activity.
US Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management- Alaska Outer Continental Shelf Region

Bowhead Whale Balaena mysticetus): Western Arctic Stock (2011)
Data from an aerial monitoring program in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea during 2006-2008 also indicate that bowheads feeding during late summer and autumn did not exhibit large-scale distribution changes in relation to seismic operations. From 1984-2003 the population trend grew consistently at over 3% per year.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration appearing in Western Arctic stock: Alaska marine mammal stock assessments

High gray whale relative abundances associated with an oceanographic front in the south-central Chukchi Sea (2007)
The study investigated gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) distribution in the south-central Chukchi Sea in relation to environmental factors during two 5-day surveys in June and September of 2003. Results showed highest whale abundances in both periods.
School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks appearing in Elsevier Journal- Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography

Degradation of crude oil by an arctic microbial consortium (2005)
This study investigated the ability of microbial consortium to degrade crude oil at low temperatures. The obtained mixed culture showed obvious advantages including stability of the consortium, wide range adaptability for crude oil degradation and strong degradation ability of crude oil.
Institute of Technical Microbiology, Hamburg University of Technology appearing in Extremophiles Journal

Influence of crude oil on changes of bacterial communities in Arctic sea-ice (2005)
This study provided a first look at the ability of microbial communities in Arctic sea-ice to tolerate and even degrade components of crude oil. The presence of hydro-carbon degrading bacteria in the Arctic sea-ice is promising for bioremediation of oil spills.
Polar and Marine Research- Bremerhaven, Germany- FEMS Microbiology Ecology [Journal]

Crude oil-induced structural shift of coastal bacterial communities of rod bay (Terra Nova Bay, Ross Sea, Antarctica) and characterization of cultured cold-adapted hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria (2004)
The compositions of microbial communities were analyzed in seawater at two sites located in the Terra Nova Bay of Antarctica (Ross Sea). The addition of crude oil to the Rod Bay seawater sample rapidly induced an adaptive shift in the composition of the bacterial community.
Institute for Coastal Marine Environment (IAMC) Italy appearing in FEMS Microbiology Ecology [Journal]


Arctic Environmental Research (2016)
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management‘s (BOEM) Environmental Studies Program (ESP) develops, funds and manages scientific research on the marine, coastal, and human environments to inform the Federal offshore oil and gas leasing program. Since the ESP’s launch in 1973, it has funded more than $1 billion nationwide, with more than $475 million dedicated to research in coastal Alaska, producing more than 1,000 study reports and peer-reviewed publications. These studies have provided information for use in 25 different lease sales, generating nearly $9.5 billion for the U.S. Treasury. The ESP currently manages more than 50 ongoing study projects in Alaska, in disciplines such as protected and endangered species; physical oceanography; fate and effects of pollutants; wildlife biology; subsistence, and traditional knowledge studies; and economic forecasting.

Considerations for the Application of Controlled In-Situ Burning (2013)
The burning of oil in place (in situ) on water is a potential and viable means of mitigating the impact of marine oil spills. This paper defines three phases of decision-making, prioritizes the key issues of each phase, and proposes a process for analyzing the issues when considering controlled in-situ burning as an early response option in both icy and warm conditions.
BP America appearing in Oil and Gas Facilities Journal

Science of the U.S. Arctic Outer Continental Shelf (2011)
The Arctic contains an estimated 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered conventional oil and natural gas. A careful balance is needed between refining our scientific understanding of the Arctic environment and preparing to take part in, and ensure the safety of, activities like energy resource development. Shell believes the two can and should proceed in parallel.

Empirical Weathering Properties of Oil in Ice and Snow (2008)
This study showed that oils develop resilience when starting to flow which then reduces and/or prevents the spreading of oil.
US Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service, Alaska Outer Continental Shelf Region

Basin-scale testing of ASD Icebreaker Enhanced Chemical Dispersion of Oil Spills (2007)
ExxonMobil and BP jointly coordinated and executed four weeks of concept testing in an arctic basic. This paper summarizes the results of that test. Immense turbulence of an ASD icebreaker promotes effective dispersion even after the oil has undergone significant weathering.
ExxonMobil Upstream Research

In Situ Burning for Oil Spills in Ice-Covered Waters (2004)
In situ burning is one of the few practical options for removing oil spilled in ice-covered waters. In many instances in situ burning, combined with surveillance and monitoring, may be the only response possible.
SL Ross Environment Research- Canada appearing in Interspill

Community Initiatives

Integrating Coastal Vulnerability and Community-Based Subsistence Resource Mapping in Northwest Alaska (2013)
This study analyzes and integrates historical and projected physical coastal changes within the Kotzebue Sound region. The results show that low erosion rates in Kivalina and Deering will not likely have any negative impact on fish and caribou—two of the most important subsistence resource species for these communities.
Department of Earth, Environmental, and Geospatial Sciences, Lehman College, City University of New York (CUNY) appearing in Journal of Coastal Research

Northwest Arctic Borough Subsistence Mapping Project (Conference Report) (2011)
Monitoring studies that identify and evaluate changes in local communities benefit the development of mitigation or response measures. This report explains how a 4 year project met the goals of the comprehensive plan: the project will help the Borough respond to climate change, endangered species listings, and development projects (mining, offshore oil and gas, Arctic marine transportation, commercial fisheries expansion, and sport hunting).
Northwest Arctic Borough

‘‘It’s Not that Simple’’: A Collaborative Comparison of Sea Ice Environments, Their Uses, Observed Changes, and Adaptations in Barrow, Alaska, USA, and Clyde River, Nunavut, Canada (2006)
Although the physical environments of Barrow and Clyde River are strikingly different, the uses of the marine environment by residents, including sea ice, had many common elements. In both locations, too, extensive changes have been observed in recent years, forcing local residents to respond in a variety of ways.
National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), University of Colorado appearing in A Journal of the Human Environment

Hunting, Herding, Fishing and Gathering: Indigenous Peoples and Renewable Resource Use in the Arctic (2005)
Indigenous peoples throughout the Arctic maintain a strong connection to the environment through hunting, herding, fishing and gathering renewable resources. These practices provide the basis for food production and have endured over thousands of years, with cultural adaptations and the ability to utilize resources often associated with or affected by seasonal variation and changing ecological conditions.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks

Local Traditions and Subsistence: A Synopsis from 25 years of research by the state of Alaska (2004)
This report provides a summary of findings on subsistence in Alaska and concludes that there are a multitude of subsistence traditions linked to particular localities.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Subsistence

Use of satellite telemetry to evaluate movements of caribou within subsistence hunting areas in northern Alaska (2003)
Caribou from the Teshekpuk Herd (TH) are an important subsistence resource for residents of Inupiaq villages in northern Alaska. In recent years the use of satellite telemetry has increased the understanding of the herd’s annual movements and interactions with other herds.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game appearing in Rangifer Journal