Melting Ice Isn’t Opening Arctic to Oil Bonanza
Teriberka, a village on the Barents Sea, has not seen an expected boom in drilling. The technical challenges remain daunting. Credit James Hill for The New York Times
By STEVEN LEE MYERS and CLIFFORD KRAUSS, NYT
SEPT. 7, 2015
TERIBERKA, Russia — The warming Arctic should already have transformed this impoverished fishing village on the coast of the Barents Sea.
The Kremlin spent billions in the last decade in hopes of turning it into a northern hub of its energy powerhouse, Gazprom. It was once the most ambitious project planned in the Arctic Ocean, but now there is little to show for it aside from a shuttered headquarters and an enormous gravel road carved out of the windblown coastline like a scar.
“There are plans,” said Viktor A. Turchaninov, the village’s mayor, “but the facts — the realities of life — suggest the opposite.”
The dream of an Arctic Klondike, made possible by the rapid warming of once-icebound waters, has been at the core of Russia’s national ambitions and those of the world’s biggest energy companies for more than a decade. But even as Royal Dutch Shell began drilling an exploratory well this summer off the north coast of Alaska, Russia’s experiences here have become a cautionary tale, one that illustrates the challenges facing those imagining that a changing Arctic will produce oil and gas riches.