Today, Shell’s new CEO announced that the company will not pursue exploration drilling in the Arctic Ocean in 2014. The announcement comes days after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Department of the Interior (DOI) acted arbitrarily in evaluating potential impacts to the ocean in its decision to hold Lease Sale 193 in the Chukchi Sea. Shell also released poor fourth quarter earnings and stated that it will cut exploration and development expenditures, like those the company has made in the Arctic. These announcements come in the wake of Shell’s failed attempts to drill exploration wells in the Arctic Ocean in 2012.
Susan Murray, Deputy Vice President, Pacific for Oceana, issued the following statement in response to the announcement:
“Oceana is pleased to see the new CEO of Shell exercising common sense in scrapping the company’s plans to drill exploration wells in the U.S. Arctic Ocean in 2014. As the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found last week, the leases in the Chukchi Sea were awarded without a realistic evaluation of the effects drilling could have in the remote and important Arctic Ocean. Clearly, a new direction is needed. The government should start over, fairly balance risks and benefits, and make a new decision about whether to allow companies to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean.
As its 2012 problems clearly demonstrate, Shell is not prepared to drill in the Arctic Ocean. The company has not explained why so many things went wrong in 2012, and has not provided adequate assurances that the same problems will not occur again. Today’s announcement that it will back away in 2014 confirms once again that the company’s proposed exploration is neither prudent nor feasible. There is no proven technology to clean up oil spilled in icy Arctic conditions, and drilling will not help move our country toward responsible and clean renewable energy.
For the sake of the vibrant Arctic ecosystem, opportunities for the subsistence way of life, and all of us who care about oceans, energy and good government, we hope for new choices based on science, preparedness, and a change from business as usual in the Arctic.”