Shell announced today that the company is foregoing drilling in the Beaufort Sea at least for 2014 and may be scrapping the Kulluk drill rig as a result of damage suffered upon running aground near Kodiak, Alaska after the failed 2012 drilling season. The company also announced that it is preparing new, scaled back plans for the Chukchi Sea and has contracted with another decades-old drilling vessel to take the Kulluk’s place. This announcement comes even as the company and government continue to address the problems encountered in 2012 and prior decisions to allow activities—the Coast Guard has not yet completed its investigations, the Department of the Interior (DOI) is preparing new Arctic standards, Shell recently paid a $1.1 million fine for violating clean air protections and has not completed the audit required by DOI, and a court is deciding whether the leases on which Shell proposes to drill were validly awarded.
In response to the announcement, Susan Murray, Oceana’s Deputy Vice President, Pacific, issued the following statement:
The specter of Shell planning to move forward in the Chukchi Sea is the scariest Halloween trick yet. Instead of continuing to ignore risks and pushing to drill, Shell ought to scrap its plans for the Arctic along with the Kulluk. As other companies appear to recognize, they simply are not ready to operate in the harsh and remote Arctic Ocean environment. There is no proven technology that would allow companies to drill safely in Arctic Ocean conditions, and the risks far outweigh any potential benefits. Even if oil and gas could be produced from the Chukchi Sea, it would not significantly affect the price of gas at the pump, and it would not reduce our dependence on foreign suppliers for decades into the future. If companies refuse to learn from their mistakes, the government must step in and say ‘enough is enough.’ We need a new path forward for the Arctic Ocean based on planning, science, and demonstrated response capabilities.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 550,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.