The oil industry is built on a series of myths. It has always prided itself on an image that against the odds it has always prevailed – its teams of geologists and explorers have crossed the globe looking for deposits of oil.
Whether it be in the jungles of South America, the harsh deserts of Arabia or the frozen seas of the Arctic, the oil men have always triumphed over adversity. They have found black gold. Along the way, they have brought prosperity and riches.
Over the decades, the myth has built up that there is some kind of rugged romanticism involved in frontier exploration. Where true men become men.
What a load of old tosh. Let’s get rid of the myth now. There is nothing romantic about frontier oil exploration.
All you have to do is ask the Amazonian Indians fighting the oil industry in the courts after their homeland was utterly devastated and polluted.
Or ask the Nigerian farmers now fighting in the Dutch courts, following in the footsteps of others who fought Shell for years in the American courts for colluding in human rights abuses.
Watching from their graves will be the thousands of Nigerians who have been killed in oil-related violence.
Don’t forget the tens of thousands of Alaskans who fought in the courts for decades against Exxon after the oil giant destroyed their livelihoods and lives.
I could go on, but this blog would turn into a book.
It is suffice to say that oil is a dirty business. It brings pollution. It brings social unrest. Often it brings the “resource curse” to developing countries, enriching a corrupt elite and marginalising the poor.
And it is one of the main drivers of climate change.
Despite this, yesterday the Financial Times had the audacity to quote an analyst describing oil exploration in Greenland as “romantic”.
Writing about oil industry exploration in Greenland, the paper’s energy correspondent, Ed Crooks, noted how UK independent Cairn Energy was leading the race to explore off-shore Greenland
Crooks wrote: “The essence of Greenland’s allure is its combination of apparently attractive geology with very little history of exploration.”
Estimates vary about how much oil could be in Greenland that north-east Greenland apparently holding anywhere between 30 to 65bn barrels of oil and gas. Both figures are likely to prove to be wrong, argues Crook. “The important point is that huge revisions are possible. Greenland is a true frontier, which is what makes it exciting: “romantic”, as one analyst put it.”
As the oil millions flow into rural Greenland, and an oil rush threatens to become a boom, where the petro-dollar is suddenly king forcing social unrest and upheaval, Greenlanders will be forgiven for thinking that this is not what they would normally call a romance.