Opponents of Shell Oil’s plans to explore for oil in arctic waters say Alaskans should pay attention to what’s happening in Nigeria, where Shell has shut down its Bonga Oil Field.
The well is located about 75 miles offshore, but Shell says it wasn’t the source of a spill that sent about 1.7 million gallons of oil flowing into the ocean.
Shell says the fuel spilled on Tuesday, while it was loaded onto a tanker.
Since then, it’s spread about 115 nautical miles and is expected to reach Nigeria’s beaches on Thursday.
“This just underscores the fact that people make mistakes, equipment fails and the industry and government traditionally understate this risk,” said Richard Steiner, a former UAA professor and environmental activist.
“What happens in Nigeria should concern people with the arctic,” said Steiner.
Curtis Smith, a spokesman for Shell Oil, says the two situations are very different.
“While the spill in Nigeria is extremely unfortunate, it’s important to keep in mind that there was no loss of life, and really there’s no correlation between the oil transfer to a tanker that led to the spill in Nigeria to the explorations wells that we have in Alaska,” said Smith.