Shell announcing return to Arctic drilling in 2014 despite disastrous previous attempt

by Cassady Sharp

October 31, 2013

The Shell conical drilling unit Kulluk sits aground on the southeast shore of Sitkalidak Island about 40 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska, in 40 mph winds and 20-foot seas January 1, 2013. The Kulluk grounded following many efforts by tug and Coast Guard crews to tow the vessel to a safe harbor when it was beset by winter storm weather during a tow from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, to Everett, Wash.

© The United States Coast Guard

[caption id="attachment_18153" align="alignnone" width="600"]The Shell conical drilling unit Kulluk sits aground on the southeast shore of Sitkalidak Island about 40 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska The Shell conical drilling unit Kulluk sits aground on the southeast shore of Sitkalidak Island about 40 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska[/caption] Despite a season of "uh-ohs" last winter, Shell is bound and determined to try, try again to drill in the Arctic. Among Shell's mishaps were equipment failures, failed safety inspections and a runaway rig off the coast of Alaska. The company has sunk $5 billion so far in its Arctic drilling plans. Before their plans to drill in the Arctic next year actually materialize, the company must fulfill several regulator requests including a third party audit of its management systems. Reacting to the news, the head of Greenpeace Internationals Arctic oil campaign Ben Ayliffe said: "Shell's Arctic bravado is a desperate attempt to reassure its investors, but the facts tell a different story. Brushing off the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars and casually scrapping a drilling platform are not the actions of a company in control of its operations. "In 2012 Shell proved that it is completely unfit to drill in the remote Arctic, a place of unrivaled beauty where any spill would be an environmental disaster. In April it signed a joint deal with Russias state owned giant Gazprom, one of the worlds most polluting oil companies with a record of serious negligence. Shell has run out of options, and is prepared to gamble its reputation on projects and partnerships that other oil companies have dismissed as far too risky. "While 30 peaceful people languish in a Russian jail, Shell's board sit in the comfort of an Amsterdam office planning the next phase in their reckless hunt for Arctic oil. Greenpeace stands with millions of people who are ready to oppose Shell or any other company that chooses to drill for oil in the Arctic ocean." On the same call with reporters, Shell today announced quarterly profits that fell short of analysts expectations. Former Secretary of the US Interior Ken Salazar summed up Shells disastrous 2012 Arctic boondoggle succinctly when hesaid, Shell screwed up in 2012, and were not going to let them screw up whenever they [resume], said Greenpeace US Arctic campaign leader GustavoAmpugnani. In a further inexplicable development, Shell has announced plans to replace its 30 year old rig, the Kulluk, which ran aground on December 31st, 2012 after a series of mishaps and misadventures, with another 30 year old rig built by notorious off shore drilling contractors, Transocean. The Arctic 30 are 28 Greenpeace International activists, a freelance photographer and freelance videographer who are being held on charges of hooliganism following a peaceful protest at a Gazprom Arctic drilling platform last month. The New York Times today reported the situation in a front page article.

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