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Shell Arctic Drilling: Blame game question

Article by a Guest Author, a Regular Contributor

We all know that Shell cannot possibly deal with a significant release of oil from any of the well it will (may) be drilling in the Arctic this summer. That is now well known and a given, no matter what Shell claims. Even the Coast Guard admits it could not deal with such a situation.

In spite of this problem Shell has gotten virtually all the permits it needs to go ahead and drill this summer, i.e., the US government has approved Shell’s woefully inadequate plan and means of dealing with any sort of significant oil spill, should one occur. The US Government knows a major ‘event’ cannot be dealt with, by either Shell or the Coast Guard.

But Shell has virtually been given the go-ahead to drill.

So, for the sake of argument, let’s presume Shell does get their final permits and they high-tail it to their drill sites and begin to drill away like happy little beavers at work on a log dam.

For the sake of argument let’s presume the unthinkable happens, a blowout of significance. Oil is now gushing into the environment at 10’s of thousands of bbls/day. A major spill now occurs and it could be the well won’t be plugged until perhaps the following drilling season.

Shell cannot handle this type of blowout and neither can the US government.

Oh, my goodness !! What do we do !! Who gets the blame here?? Shell ? or the USG ? Who covers the cost of cleanup, whatever that means?

In this scenario Shell would have done everything it was required to do (Almost – they now admit they cannot cleanup 90% of a spill, they can only ‘contact’ 90% of the spilled material. But who is parsing words? ). USG agencies would clearly be facing a great deal of scrutiny for ‘inadequate’ review of permits, safetly processes, guidelines and regs., etc.

Who would be the bad guy here ?

Seems to me it is the USG first and foremost, and Shell second. It is up to USG regulatory agencies to competently execute their responsibilities, and not pander to the political expediencies of the day. In such a scenario that would not be the case.

So, who would hang? Clearly, the Sec. of Interior would be in the hot seat. Shell USA’s boss would clearly have to go. But the Sec. of the Interior only does as he is told to do, like a good little soldier. And remember, Marvin Odum has a new buddy he has visited about 13 times this year, President Obama.

Wouldn’t this be an interesting – What? Greek tragedy?. Unfortunately, for the pristine Arctic wilderness environment it would be a horrific tragedy, and the damage would be beyond repair.

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