Wednesday, November 25, 2009


WASHINGTON — With global warming melting the Arctic's eons-old ice at an alarming rate, shipping and oil companies are looking ahead at how to exploit the new open waters.

Scientists say the Arctic's seas could be essentially free of ice in the summertime by mid-century.

Already, shipping already has increased within the Arctic Circle to serve the oil and gas industry.

Oil companies have been looking at Alaska's arctic waters as a new frontier.

And in the past two years, the Bush administration has leased large parts of those waters — the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.

Shell was the main buyer of the Chukchi leases in February, spending $2.1 billion.

"Shell, like many other national and international oil companies, is actively assessing Arctic opportunities," said Shell spokeswoman Darci Sinclair.

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