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Arctic Drilling Protests Greet Royal Dutch Shell Drilling Rigs In Seattle

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By: MICHEAL KAUFMANPublished: May 16, 2015 at 9:07 am EST

The protest by environmental groups and the people of Seattle against Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) move to dock its drilling rigs at the city’s port is growing by the day. The port of Seattle had earlier decided to grant access to Shell’s Arctic drilling rigs.

As part of the lease agreement between the port of Seattle and shell subsidiary Foss maritime, the latter will service Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet for two years. On May 11, the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management had given a conditional approval to the Anglo-Dutch company to conduct oil exploration in the Arctic.

On May 12, 2015, Port of Seattle commissioner made a request to Shell asking it to delay the arrival of its drilling rig the Polar Pioneer at the port’s terminal 5 until issues pertaining to permits are sorted out. The Seattle City Council has also reacted to the docking of Shell’s rigs at the port.

However, on May 14, the rig was moved through Elliot Bay and anchored at Terminal 5. Shell has invested $1 billion in its drilling program in the summer and has limited time to conduct operations. The rig was greeted by several dozen protesters belonging to different groups.

In the first such planned protest, activists took off in kayaks and small boats from Seacrest Park on the West Seattle waterfront where they had assembled. The demonstration included campaigners from the group sHellNo. The group intends to continue its protests against Shell’s plan to drill in the Arctic.

More protests are planned from 16-18 May, including a flotilla rally “Paddle in Seattle” on May 16 and another big demonstration organized for the 18 May, close to Terminal 5. According to, the group plans to obstruct Shell’s preparations to drill in the Arctic in a non-violent way by converting the area around Terminal 5 and Harbor Island into a festival of resistance. sHellNo intends to gather on the Seattle waterfront by land and sea.

The organizers of the flotilla rally on May 16 are calling the event family friendly and want the protestors on kayaks whom they refer to as “Kayaktivists” to say “Shell No” to the company’s plans to drill in the Arctic. The organizers of the event have also erected a 4,000-square foot barge run on renewable energy, which is parked only a quarter mile from the Polar Pioneer drilling rig.

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