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Shell’s record shows protecting environment a top priority (says Shell)

Anchorage Daily News

COMPASS: Other points of view

It’s unfortunate Dan Strickland’s commentary in the Daily News chose to use the Exxon Valdez marine transport environmental tragedy to make his case against oil and gas leasing in the North Aleutian Basin. While it’s clear Mr. Strickland is passionate to keep the region off-limits to industry, the safety record of Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) exploration and production is vastly better than marine transport.

U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) reports and supporting data indicate that the North Aleutian Basin is considered a gas play and that tankers will not be considered for the region. Industry has covered a distance of over 75,000 miles collecting seismic data in the region during the 1970s and early 1980s and there has been no known negative impact on marine mammals, the environment or fish. Because Mr. Strickland specifically mentioned Shell, I feel it important to respond. First, Mr. Strickland predicted Shell would “claim” the ability to manage any discharge accident at sea. It would be foolish to make such a statement, so we have not.

That said, in anticipation of drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Shell has assembled on-site spill response vessels, collection tankers, skimmers, booms, icebreakers and helicopters that will be in operational readiness from the moment we are able to start drilling. This specially designed oil spill response fleet is unprecedented and indicative of the effort and technology we bring to Alaska.

But oil spill response begins with prevention — an area of expertise we dedicate an enormous amount of time and resources to. There hasn’t been a significant spill from a platform in the U.S. in nearly 30 years, and there’s never been a significant oil spill from a blowout in the Alaska or Canadian Arctic.

That’s not luck.

The best practices and technology we bring to our offshore work make Shell a preferred operator around the world. Every OCS oil and gas well has an underwater shut-in valve that works to minimize environmental damage from oil spills, such as from hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. Following Hurricane Katrina, Shell platforms were responsible for just over 325 barrels of discharge — a far cry from the 700,000 gallons Mr. Strickland alluded to. No environmental damage occurred in federal waters after sustained 175 mph winds ripped through the heart of the Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production (“a warm breeze” according to Mr. Strickland). 

While it’s tempting to address Mr. Strickland’s arguments line by line, we value hearing his points and his passion for the Bristol Bay region. We recognize the importance of the exchange of ideas and dialogue that should take place before leasing and exploration takes place in the North Aleutian Basin. That’s happening now as the MMS works toward completion of an Environmental Impact Statement that will allow for public comments over several years. Only after that process is complete would a lease sale take place — and it very well may not.

Mr. Strickland and I are already aligned on some issues. Sound science should drive any decisions to lease in the North Aleutian Basin. We also agree the grounding of the Selendang Ayu in 2004 was a wake-up call that vessel traffic in the region requires a system in place to clean up oil spills from vessels. If industry does enter the region, it is essential they bring with them the oil spill response equipment and accompanying jobs that currently do not exist.

Fisheries and the oil industry have proved time and time again they can co-exist. Extensive studies of fisheries within oil and gas development areas have not shown negative impact on fish populations or quality from industry activity. In fact, a recent Environmental Protection Agency study of fish and shellfish in Cook Inlet determined the seafood was “as clean and wholesome as any that EPA has ever tested,” after 40 years of oil and gas production.

It’s possible the North Aleutian Basin may one day claim a similar story — so long as all stakeholders understand the others’ needs, and that constant dialogue and mutual respect is maintained. I look forward to the ongoing conversation.


Related information which provides the truth about Shell’s environmental track record…

Royal Dutch Shell environmental issues

Royal Dutch Shell safety concerns

New York Times: “Shell Loses Suit on Cleanup Cost” (Rocky Mountain Arsenal): 20 Dec 1988

New York Times: “Wide Impact Expected In Shell Pollution Case” (Rocky Mountain Arsenal): 21 December 1988

The Independent (front page story) Government’s green agency invests millions in companies that pollute: 7 January 2003

Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute: August 2005

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection: SHELL AND MOTIVA AGREE TO PAY $1.2 MILLION FINE: 25 January 2007

WWN: Shell Pays $1.2 Million Fine for Contaminating Water In New Jersey: 1 February 2007

The Guardian: Shell hires Bush’s environmental adviser: 5 February 2007

New York Times: Settlement for Coral Power: 15 November 2003

Environmental Leader: Shell Sued Over Texas Refinery Emissions: 8 Jan 2008

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: Shell Chemical fined $166,530: 28 January 2008

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: Shell Chemical LP and Shell Oil Company fined $345,744 Deer Park Refinery unauthorized emissions: 2 April 2008 Two refiners settle with Hartford residents: 17 July 2008

The Times-Picayune: Protesters call for Shell to pay La. $362 million: 20 August 2008

Carrying signs in a driving rainstorm demanding that Shell Oil Co. “fix the coast you broke,” about 25 environmental activists on Tuesday attempted to deliver a bill for $362 million to the corporation’s New Orleans headquarters.

Environmental Leader: Shell Criticized for Manipulating Environmental Audit Report: 2 September 2008

Contra Costa Times: Shell pays fine for 2006 spill: 25 September 2008

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: SOUTH AFRICA: Community takes on big polluters: 26 September 2008

The Guardian: Reviled firms lead responsibility list: 28 October 2008

Seattle Times: Shell to clean up 83 gas stations in W Wash: 18 November 2008

Department of Ecology News Release: Shell-Ecology multi-site cleanup agreement is state’s first: 18 November 2008

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: Shell Chemical fined $345,744: 19 November 2008

The Guardian: Shell fined £18,000 for polluting ground waters in Grimsby: 26 November 2008

Radio New Zealand “Shell fights Commerce Commission action”:18 December 2008

New Zealand Herald: Watchdog says Shell Fuel ads misleading: (Front Page Story) 18 December 2008

New Zealand Herald: Watchdog says Shell fuel ads misleading: (Internet Version) 18 December 2008

New Zealand Herald: Open Letter from Shell to all New Zealanders: 18 December 2008

AlterNet: “Shell Monbiot Grills Shell Oil CEO: Is There Any Investment You Would Not Make on Ethical Grounds?: 8 Jan 2009

Environmental Protection Agency: Shell to Pay $1 Million Penalty, Enhance Pollution Controls for Clean Water Act Violations in Puerto Rico: 12 January 2009

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: Chevron Phillips fined $168,416 and Shell Chemical fined $166,530: 28 January 2009 Shell to check for benzene: 20 February 2009

(Groundwater contamination: “A total of 8,400 gallons of benzene leaked from an underground pipeline that was used by Wood River Refinery while it was owned and operated by Shell Oil Co.”)

New York Times: Supreme Court considers who gets the tab for toxic cleanups: 24 February 2009

Environmental impact of Oil Sands Extraction

Daily Express: ENERGY FIRMS THREATEN POOR – OXFAM: 6 October 2008

United States Environmental Protection Agency: Shell to Pay $1 Million Penalty, Enhance Pollution Controls for Clean Water Act Violations in Puerto Rico: 12 January 2009

(Related Article: Washington Post: Obama compares oil sands to coal: 17 February 2009)

Convenience Store News: Ethanol Lawsuit Proceeds against Oil Companies: 4 March 2009

Daily Express Dirty Dozen List Most Energy-Inefficient London buildings: Shell Centre at No 5: 11 March 2009

FT: Emissions disclosure study puts Shell bottom of the big oil class: 16 March 2009 and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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