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Offshore oil plan could be ‘game over’ for climate

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 09.49.25Extract from an article by Professor Richard Steiner published 25 July 2014 by The Arctic Sounder

Already suffering extreme effects of climate change, drilling in the Arctic Ocean would make matters worse by adding significant industrial disturbance, including platforms, pipelines, tankers, ports, ship and air traffic, underwater noise, suspended sediment, and of course oil spills with no hope of cleanup. The area’s remoteness, severe weather and icy seas make drilling here a high-risk, unacceptable gamble.

Just ask Shell Oil. In perhaps the most intensely scrutinized offshore drilling project in history, Shell’s calamitous 2012 Arctic drilling effort off Alaska displayed arrogance, incompetence, and a reckless disregard for the risks involved.

One of Shell’s Arctic drilling rigs, the Kulluk, being towed across the stormy Gulf of Alaska in late December (to avoid paying first-of-the-year taxes), broke its tow and grounded off of Kodiak Island. Its other drill ship, the Noble Discoverer, had to emergency-disconnect from drilling to avoid the approach of a large ice floe, had a stack fire, broke down and had to be towed into port, was detained by the Coast Guard, and was issued several notices of violation and serious deficiencies.

Shell’s oil spill containment dome “crushed like a beer can” when it was first tested. Both of Shell’s Arctic drill rigs were seriously damaged, and the company had to cancel its 2013 and 2014 Arctic drilling plans. Industry observers opined that Shell may have “bitten off more than it could chew.”

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