Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image

Another Stumble in the Quest for Arctic Oil

Shell has provided a helpful window into what a future of offshore drilling in the Arctic would look like, and it looks disastrous.

Extracts from article published 13 Jan 2013:

Another Stumble in the Quest for Arctic Oil

Shell’s decision to tow its drill rig from Dutch Harbor, Alaska to Seattle for repairs in the middle of the winter was bewildering. It’s a time when storms are frequent and waves of the sort encountered by the Kulluk are common, and it wasn’t long before the rig and the ship towing it, the Aiviq, ran into potentially life-threatening danger.

The episode was an exclamation mark on a disastrous season in the Arctic for Shell, whose track record before this latest accident would have been humorous were the safety and environmental implications not so grave. At every step, from construction to transport to testing, the company proved itself entirely unprepared for life in Alaskan waters.

The Kulluk is not even the company’s first piece of drilling equipment to flirt with disaster this year. In July, Shell lost control of its drillship, the Noble Discoverer, when it dragged anchor in Dutch Harbor. In November, the Discoverer had a fire while in port and is reportedly under investigation by the Coast Guard for safety and environmental violations.

In September, Shell announced that its oil containment dome, equipment designed to cap an oil spill (and avoid what happened with the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico), was damaged during testing in “lake-like” conditions in Puget Sound. A government inspector emailed that the dome “breached like a whale” and was “crushed like a beer can.”

Shell has provided a helpful window into what a future of offshore drilling in the Arctic would look like, and it looks disastrous.

This post was co-authored by Ted Danson and Andrew Sharpless.

COMPLETE ARTICLE

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: