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The Kulluk and Shell’s Arctic reputation both need salvaging

Latest news: the Kulluk is aground, abandoned, battered by high winds and rough seas, while awaiting a salvage crew – if there is anything left to salvage by the time they can safely get aboard. Looks likely that Shell’s plans for Arctic drilling in 2013 will have to be scuppered. Shell’s reputation for competence, after an endless series of mishaps and blunders in its ill-equipped, ill-fated Arctic folly, is in as dire straights as the Kulluk. Didn’t anyone learn anything from Shell’s “Touch Fuck All” corner-cutting approach to offshore safety, which cost the lives of offshore workers?

A view of the Kulluk aground southeast of Sitkalidak Island. The grounding was only the latest of the problems Shell has run into in seeking to drill north of Alaska. Photo Credit: Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg/U.S. Coast Guard

By John Donovan

Latest news: the Kulluk is aground, abandoned, battered by high winds and rough seas, while awaiting a salvage crew – if there is anything left to salvage by the time they can safely get aboard. Looks likely that Shell’s plans for Arctic drilling in 2013 will have to be scuppered.

As is correctly pointed out in an articled published in The New York Times newspaper this morning:

“If the Kulluk, which Shell upgraded in recent years at a cost of nearly $300 million, is wrecked or substantially damaged, it will be hard for the company to find a replacement and receive the numerous government permits needed to resume drilling in July, as planned. Under Department of Interior rules governing Arctic drilling, the company must have two rigs on site at all times to provide for a backup vessel to drill a relief well in case of a blowout, an uncontrolled escape of oil or gas.”

All warnings about Shell’s atrocious offshore track record, including alarm bells rung by Bill Campbell, the retired HSE Group Auditor of Shell International, were ignored. Worth remembering that Shell also has a track record of corrupting U.S. federal oversight officials and buying influence with U.S. politicians.

Shell’s reputation for competence, after an endless series of mishaps and blunders in its ill-equipped, ill-fated Arctic folly, is in as dire straits as the Kulluk. Didn’t anyone learn anything from Shell’s “Touch Fuck All” corner-cutting approach to offshore safety, which cost the lives of offshore workers?

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