In the latest in a long string of mishaps and near disasters that have plagued Shell Oil, the company’s drill rig, the Kulluk, ran aground near Kodiak, Alaska on December 31, 2012.
The area in which the Kulluk grounded is critical habitat for endangered Steller sea lions and threatened sea otters, and there are important fisheries in the area that support Alaska’s economy. Thankfully, the incident appears close to resolution without loss of life or substantial harm to the sensitive habitat. This latest accident comes after a drilling season full of problems and near disasters.
Shell has spent six years and more than $4 billion in its effort to drill in Arctic waters, one of the last untapped oil-producing regions in the United States. As we have been shown again and again, Alaska’s seas are unforgiving. Shell has not been able to conduct any phase of its operations without substantial problems. This grounding should serve as the tipping point to show our government that we are not ready to drill in the Arctic Ocean.