Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig off the coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. © Gary Braasch /

By Jeremy Hance
29 October 2012

( – Twelve miles off shore from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge floats a seemingly tiny man-made device—at least from an airplane—but it's actually a 160-foot high Shell Dutch Royal oil drilling rig. While the hugely controversial plan to drill for oil in the Arctic ocean was postponed this year due to a variety of mishaps and delays, the Shell rig is expected to be in the area until the end of month drilling top holes in the ocean floor to prep oil drilling next year.

Photographer Gary Braasch writes of his photos, "the public probably does not realize how close this new off-shore well site is to a place they consider protected."

Environmentalists and indigenous groups have repeatedly blasted plans to drill offshore in the Arctic, saying Shell was not prepared to deal with an oil spill in these extreme conditions, which include massive storms and floating ice. Some have also criticized plans to drill for more fossil fuels in the Arctic where the region's seasonal sea ice has just hit another record low due to climate change.

Picture of the day: Shell drilling rig within view of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge



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