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Petroleum News: Shell committed to working with Alaskans

Vol. 12, No. 37  Week of September 16, 2007

By Marvin Odum, executive vice president of Shell Exploration & Production-Americas

More than two years ago, Shell returned to Alaska to explore for the vast oil and gas resources yet to be discovered in the state’s offshore regions. We recognized a key ingredient to our success would be finding common ground with the people of Alaska so that these resources could be developed for the benefit of all involved.

Though we may never fully understand the subsistence culture, through continued dialogue there is a great deal we can accomplish together. We will continue to listen and learn from the people and communities of the North Slope and residents across Alaska. Important work and discussions are ongoing with Mayor Itta and we are heartened by the progress being made.

We recognize that the North Slope Borough and its residents are at a critical juncture that will determine the quality of life for the next generation. We also recognize the challenge of balancing cultural preservation against the need to exist in a cash economy including the development of natural resources. This is a complicated issue for local communities and Shell stands ready to address these concerns.

Our experience in the Arctic makes Shell uniquely qualified to safely explore for oil and gas resources offshore Alaska. Shell also believes success in the Beaufort carries with it a potentially enormous upside for North Slope communities and the state — including hundreds of high paying jobs and new oil for the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

Recently, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments that called into question the federal government’s approval of Shell’s 2007 plan of operation. The court temporarily halted our drilling activities pending a formal decision on the merits of the case. This disappointing development seriously jeopardizes our 2007 drilling season in the Beaufort Sea and regrettably impacts the residents of Alaska directly through job losses.

As part of our 2007 exploration program we recruited and trained more than 700 personnel — among them roughly 350 Alaskans, 150 of whom are Alaska Natives. Unfortunately, if we are not allowed to pursue our drilling plans, we cannot keep these dedicated workers on board. For this reason, Shell is now in the process of initiating a staged release of staff and contract personnel associated with our planned 2007 drilling program.

These people and jobs are important to Alaska and to Shell. They are proof of our commitment to a shared future. It is possible if the Court lifted its injunction that Shell could continue with its 2007 operations.

It is my vision that Shell and the people of Alaska can share common goals. We stand by the people and communities of Alaska. We will continue to listen, learn and work with Mayor Itta and the North Slope communities, including the North Slope Borough and Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, to find solutions that allow us to protect the region’s subsistence culture recognizing the role of traditional knowledge while responsibly developing Alaska’s abundant offshore energy resources.

We will only have a successful program in Alaska if it benefits not only the current residents of the entire state, but the next generation as well. and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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