Former BP PLC Chief Executive John Browne said fellow FTSE 100 giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC is risking its long term reputation and finances by deciding to drill n the Arctic, the BBC reported.
But the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell says he decided to drill for oil off the coast of Alaska after a careful evaluation of the risks
Both Browne and Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden gave interviews to BBC for a Radio 4 documentary concerning climate change, where Browne said Shell should not be prioritising the Arctic as an area for exploration for a variety of reasons, especially in the current downturn.
"I'm not chairman of Shell. But I think [Arctic drilling] is very expensive and I would always go for hydrocarbons which have less cost and effort involved. Some companies will genuinely believe - they may be right - that they can produce oil safely and environmentally securely in extraordinary conditions" said Browne.
Ben van Beurden says that although drilling in the Arctic carries an "increased risk profile" because of the fragile environment, the reservoir Shell is exploring is "from a technical perspective relatively easy."
Ben, acknowledged to the BBC that there were risks involved in Arctic drilling, but said he had gone on a “personal journey” before reaching the decision.
Shell has recently started preliminary drilling in Alaska's Chukchi Sea following several setbacks, including protesters blocking vessels and equipment deliveries.
Despite a series of high profile protests, the Polar Pioneer rig began drilling on July 30th. However, government rules restricted the company from drilling to depths where oil could be reached until a safety vessel, The Fennica, was in place.
However, the company is continuing to face fierce condemnation from green groups. Environmental activists say drilling in the Arctic risks damaging the local environment.