French energy chief says Arctic oil is a pipe dream

The head of Paris-based energy giant Total (FP:PA) is dismissive of the possibility of oil extraction in the Arctic.

The mineral and energy potential of the Arctic has drawn increasing attention of late, with many believing that global warming and the melting of polar ice caps will render a rich trove of resources readily accessible.

Commodities-voracious China is already seeking to shore up its claim to any potential pay-offs from polar resources, while remote Greenland has suddenly become a bright spot for investment as the "next global mining frontier."

Speaking to the Financial Times (paywall), however, Christophe de Margerie, the chairman and CEO of France's Total, said oil drilling in Greenland "would be a disaster" due to the ramifications for both the environment and corporate reputations of any oil leaks.

Shell was forced to suspend exploratory drilling in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea earlier this month following damage to its Arctic Challenger barge. Oil and gas companies in general have drawn fire from environmental groups for their efforts to expand into an increasingly warm and accessible Arctic.

De Margerie instead supports gas exploration in the Arctic due to the ease of containing and cleaning up leaks, with Total already pursuing a number of such projects in the region.