In response to Shell Oil Company’s stated request to extend the allowable drilling season in the Arctic Ocean, Oceana today formally sought to have Secretary of the Interior Salazar abide his stated commitments to caution and preparedness by rejecting Shell’s request. Andy Sharpless, Oceana’s Chief Executive Officer, issued the following statement about the request and Shell’s aggressive push drill for oil in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas:
“There is no price tag on the Arctic. No matter how much money the company spends or how many vessels it mobilizes, Shell should not be allowed put the Arctic Ocean at risk. Shell, and only Shell, is responsible for the situation in which the company now finds itself. Shell has not lived up to its stated commitments, has chosen to use old vessels and, apparently, simply has not been paying attention. Now, with the summer season dwindling, the company seeks further accommodations. The rules should not be bent for Shell under any circumstances, but certainly not these.
“Shell’s problems are extensive and well-documented: Shell lost losing control of the Noble Discoverer in Dutch Harbor; backtracked on the written commitment to recover spilled oil and, instead, stated that it will only “encounter” oil; and admitted that it cannot comply with the clean air protections in its permit and has sought to have those conditions waived. Currently, the company’s spill response barge the Arctic Challenger, remains docked after a prolonged argument between Shell and the Coast Guard. The ship was a borderline ghost ship before Shell leased it, spending nearly the last 20 years of its life rusting away in west coast harbors and becoming tern habitat in the process:
“Now, on top of all this Shell is requesting more time. In a year when ice persisted longer into the Arctic summer than experts thought, ice may come back earlier than experts estimate. Ice is unpredictable, and Shell cannot be allowed to rely on different projections to justify extensions needed to accommodate its own missteps.
“Shell is playing a dangerous game of chicken with its shareholders’ money—spending lavishly to move its fleet into place and thereby daring the government to protect the Arctic Ocean and ensure that Shell is held to the highest standards. We should not be swayed by this gambit. The rules should not be changed to accommodate Shell’s inability to comply with them, and decisions should be based on what is best for the Arctic, not Shell’s bottom line.
Oceana campaigns to protect and restore the world’s oceans. Our teams of marine scientists, economists, lawyers and advocates win specific and concrete policy changes to reduce pollution and to prevent the irreversible collapse of fish populations, marine mammals and other sea life. Global in scope and dedicated to conservation, Oceana has campaigners based in North America, Europe and South and Central America. More than 500,000 members and e-activists in over 150 countries have already joined Oceana. For more information, please visit www.Oceana.org.