Arctic Exploration – Hovercraft
Arctic Exploration – the hovercraft are coming
The race is on to find new oil, gas and coal reserves in the frozen north, with a number of countries hoping to discover new undersea oil reserves. Many companies now use hovercraft for arctic exploration.
Norway, Iceland, Russia and Greenland are pressing ahead with plans to explore and try reach valuable energy resources. Russian company Rosneft will drill next year in the Kara Sea where it has 42 licences in offshore blocks, also in Laptev, East Siberian and Chukchi Seas. Gazprom plans to pump the first commercial oil from the Pechora Sea in the first quarter of 2014.
Without Arctic off-shore drilling, Russia’s oil production is projected to decline by about 1 million barrels a day by 2020. Iceland’s economy suffered from the economic crisis so is hoping to find oil reserves to help its economy improve. Recent controversy arose when the Russian authorities seized The Arctic Sunrise, a Greenpeace ship – the Russians appear to be on an unstoppable mission, they need energy, Russia gets quite cold in winter time. Oil exploration in the far north presents some interesting problems.
Global warming is melting sea ice to make the Arctic more accessible. Drilling crews will have a number of problems to contend with – dense fogs, drifting ice, months of darkness and gales.
Exxon and Rosneft created a joint scientific venture in June to study oil drilling in the far north. Exxon committed $200 million. If oil spills occur, oil might become trapped under the ice, so how would clean up operations protect the arctic marine life without contaminating the environment?
Other problems to overcome include how to bring food and supplies to platforms over the ice – and this is where hovercraft can assist. Russian ice breaking ships require significant energy to blow huge bubbles of air under the ice and through the deployment of lasers – hovercraft just glide over the ice using considerably less power. Snow mobiles are ok on snow but they slither about on ice and fall through ice cracks – hovercraft fly over ice or water at speeds of up to 40 mph.