Total opposes arctic drilling

French oil giant Total has made an unprecedented move among big oil companies by expressing concerns over drilling efforts in the Arctic.

The comments were made last week the company’s chief executive Christophe de Margerie, who said in an interview with the Financial Times that the risk of a spill in Arctic areas was far too high and would cause harm to the industry. He added, “Oil on Greenland would be a disaster. A leak would do too much damage to the image of the company.”

The comments have been welcomed by conservation group Greenpeace. Ben Ayliff said on behalf of the organisation’s Arctic campaign, “The rest of the oil industry should heed his warning.”

However, de Margerie also said that Total would continue exploration into Arctic gas reserves because cleaning up after a gas-related incident is far easier than post-oil spill restoration.

The news comes as global oil conglomerates continue to secure new agreements for Arctic drilling projects. Russian group Rosneft gave the nod last year to Royal Dutch Shell, ENI and ExxonMobil, whilst several other firms have secured deals for new drilling off the coast of Greenland.