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Jarvis writes: "In December of 2011, Royal Dutch Shell produced a series of videos advertising the company's plans to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean. Their tagline: 'It's time to explore, and Shell is Arctic Ready.'"

Salvage teams conduct an assessment of Shell's Kulluk drill barge on January 9th, 2013 in Kodiak Island's Kiliuda Bay in Alaska. (photo: Tim Aubry/Getty Images)
Salvage teams conduct an assessment of Shell's Kulluk drill barge on January 9th, 2013 in Kodiak Island's Kiliuda Bay in Alaska. (photo: Tim Aubry/Getty Images)


Shell's Arctic Drilling Experiment Has Been an Epic Failure

By Brooke Jarvis, Rolling Stone

12 January 13

 

n December of 2011, Royal Dutch Shell produced a series of videos advertising the company's plans to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean. Their tagline: "It's time to explore, and Shell is Arctic Ready."

That slogan sounds rather different after 2012, a year in which little went as the company planned - this week prompting U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to announce an urgent, high-level review of what went wrong.

The year closed on a particularly low note when, on New Year's Eve, the Kulluk - one of two drilling rigs Shell sent to the Arctic - broke free from its tow ship in rough weather and ran aground on the rocky coast of Stikalidak Island while carrying more than 150,000 gallons of diesel.

But even before this mishap, the experiment had already been a severe disappointment to the company. In July, the Kulluk's sister ship, the Noble Discoverer, slipped its anchorage and narrowly avoided a similar fate. Construction problems and equipment failures delayed drilling; just a day after work finally began in September, the Noble Discoverer had to stop again to make way for an incoming ice floe more than 30 miles long. An oil spill containment dome failed a required safety inspection, "crushed like a beer can" by underwater pressure. The Coast Guard, which is already investigating the Noble Discoverer for criminally inadequate pollution and safety controls, is now launching an investigation of the Kulluk incident. And in further bad news for Shell (and the Arctic), the Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday that both the Kulluk and the Noble Discoverer repeatedly violated the Clean Air Act during the 2012 season.

Environmental groups have long opposed Arctic offshore drilling, arguing that it's the height of hubris to imagine that oil companies can operate safely in the extreme conditions of the Arctic Ocean - particularly after 2010's catastrophic Deepwater Horizon spill in the comparatively placid Gulf of Mexico. These advocates say recent events illustrate their point: "Shell spent [the last year] making our argument far better than we ever could," a Sierra Club official told the Department of Interior yesterday.

Meanwhile, the words "Arctic Ready" have taken on a new flavor. Google the phrase now, and instead of Shell's promotional videos, you'll find a faux website and a series of spoof ads created by Greenpeace and the prankster duo known as the Yes Men - plus pages and pages of news coverage of the stunt. The goal was to emphasize the riskiness of Arctic drilling, as well as the ironic fact that this policy was made possible by the increasingly ice-free Arctic summers of our climate change era. One fake ad shows a polar bear: "With Arctic ice disappearing fast, polar bears today can swim hundreds of miles in search of food. We think they can do better. And so can we. At Shell, we're exploring beyond our limits."

Still, despite the accidents and the inquiries, both Shell and the Obama Administration have made it clear that they expect drilling to continue - perhaps as soon as next summer. In the press release announcing the Shell review, Interior Secretary Salazar reaffirmed that "The Administration is fully committed to exploring for potential energy resources in frontier areas such as the Arctic." Shell's attempt was widely seen as a test case for future offshore Arctic drilling, and other companies are waiting in the wings - "Arctic Ready," ready or not.

 

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+6 # indian weaver 2013-01-12 07:19
I cannot think of a single good thing our government has done for years now, including the equally criminal Obama "lack-of-admini stration". No good news is bad news folks. And no good news exists unless it is lies, and we have mostly lies from cowards for years now. Is this our government? No. We have nothing to do with it and have no influence. It is not a democracy for The People. It is a fascist regime for the rich and torturers / assassins who run their country (not ours).
 
 
+6 # DPM 2013-01-12 13:55
Our government is a criminal organization that shovels wealth from the bottom to the top. That is their only concern. Do we have to starve before we act? Those at the top are anticipating just that and are preparing to act. They only need a pretext. Perhaps that will signal a coming change.
 
 
+7 # jmac9 2013-01-12 09:32
In this insane capitalist fraud,

Profit is more important than you...all of you. Profit is the first motivation.

So of course there is pollution, poison, cancer, fake wars, unnecessary starvation as you are not the focus of this life which you should be.

This profit motivation can be changed - has to be changed to end all the ills facing humanity. the7facts.info

From - profit at any price -
change -

the first motivation to : be a benefit to others. (benefit being defined as; healthy, minimized pollution impact, helpful, organic, equanimity).

Business still happens but look at what a dramatic change of direction a shift in motivation can do.
 
 
+5 # Regina 2013-01-12 10:22
Shell has shown just how ready it is for the Arctic! We'll be lucky indeed if they can salvage their latest fiasco without a ruinous spill.
 
 
+5 # reiverpacific 2013-01-12 12:20
Just proves my contention that any commercial paid for by a big corporation on the owner-media -you count on the opposite being true.
"Drill, baby drill" Palin must be chuffed -she might be able to "see Shell rigs from her house" soon and shoot Polar Bears from helicopters.
We don't deserve this planet!.
 
 
-3 # stevetxmd 2013-01-12 12:31
Despite all the heated rhetoric and breathless denunciations, there have been no oil spills (yet) in the Arctic. There have been no injuries. A violation of air quality rules is bad, and will likely be addressed. Until we get a grip and get serious about alternative fuels like solar, wind, and hemp, this is what we are going to get. But leave the excoriations aside until they are really justified.
 
 
+3 # reiverpacific 2013-01-12 14:54
Quoting stevetxmd:
Despite all the heated rhetoric and breathless denunciations, there have been no oil spills (yet) in the Arctic. There have been no injuries. A violation of air quality rules is bad, and will likely be addressed. Until we get a grip and get serious about alternative fuels like solar, wind, and hemp, this is what we are going to get. But leave the excoriations aside until they are really justified.

Just give them time. Their record around the world speaks for itself.
That's like sayin' "gosh, O hope the Coyotes don't get my chickens that i forgot to lock up tonight".
In this scenario, you might as well let Exxon Mobile, BP and the whole shootin' match loose everywhere, unregulated.
You must ha' bought into the corporate line -and just think how much it costs to air their propagandcrap on the owner-media to a credulous, gullible amnesiac populace.
 
 
0 # MidwestTom 2013-01-12 13:27
They have spent $2 Billion for the tight to be there, and another $2 Billion to actually prepare for drilling. They have encountered many unexpected problems, but they appear to have been prepared for problems, shown by the lack of any leakage, despite a major mishap.
 
 
+1 # reiverpacific 2013-01-12 14:55
Quoting MidwestTom:
They have spent $2 Billion for the tight to be there, and another $2 Billion to actually prepare for drilling. They have encountered many unexpected problems, but they appear to have been prepared for problems, shown by the lack of any leakage, despite a major mishap.

Read my response to "stevetxmd".
 

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