Developing these resources presents technological, environmental and social challenges. ExxonMobil has a strong portfolio of assets and opportunities in a range of Arctic environments, some of which we have held for 30 years or more. The company’s efforts in the Arctic begin by gaining a scientific understanding of the environment. For example, ExxonMobil conducted extensive environmental baseline studies in the Canadian Beaufort Sea to gather credible data to support our recent offshore seismic program. We are also participating in environmental habitat studies offshore Greenland that include whale migration, fisheries resource assessment, migratory bird habitats and understanding the impact of resource development on indigenous communities. Detailed environmental and fishery studies conducted in the Kara Sea, north of Siberia, during the summer of 2012 included observations of marine mammals. In 2013, we also plan to conduct field monitoring for detecting sensitive coastal areas in the region.
Design and operational plans in Arctic locales, similar to everywhere we operate, are based on the goal of reducing adverse environmental impacts. On Sakhalin Island, our extended reach drilling technologies have allowed for field development from land by drilling 40,000 feet horizontally under the sea. Extended reach drilling technology reduces underwater noise and limits our offshore presence. We also use special earthquake- and frost-resistant pipelines in some northern areas.
Arctic spill response
As more of ExxonMobil’s opportunities are located in Arctic and cold weather climates, we developed a new training program focused on spill response tactics in these environments. In 2012, the course was offered in Edmonton, Alberta. Participants came from across the Corporation, including projects, operations, pipelines and corporate representatives from Canada and the United States. While many of the basic oil response techniques remain unchanged, the addition of ice and frozen conditions creates a number of logistical and environmental challenges. Training such as this, along with participation in drills and exercises related to oil spill response, are key components of ExxonMobil’s emergency response framework. We have the industry’s only dedicated, in-house oil spill response research program and have led several joint industry projects to enhance oil spill response in icebearing waters. Most recently, ExxonMobil, along with eight other companies, formed the International Oil and Gas Producers’ Arctic Oil Spill Response Joint Industry Program. This three-year, $20 million initiative will expand industry knowledge of, and capabilities for, Arctic oil spill prevention and response.