Shell Oil’s 2015 Arctic Ocean Exploration Plan Deemed Complete
Press Release Date: April 10, 2015
Location: Juneau, Alaska
Juneau, AK— Today, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced that it had deemed complete Shell Oil Company’s plan to drill exploration wells in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea beginning this summer. Shell proposes to use two vessels—the Noble Discoverer and the Transocean Polar Pioneer—to conduct simultaneous drilling operations. Along with the drilling vessels, Shell plans to bring icebreakers, barges, tugs, aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and other support equipment to the region. Shell’s last efforts in the Arctic Ocean in 2012 resulted in a series of mishaps culminating in the grounding of its drill rig, the Kulluk, and a series of government investigations and enforcement actions.
Today’s determination begins a 30-day window for agency review of the plan. This process marks the fourth time the federal government has deemed Shell’s plans complete. Though the government eventually approved all of those plans, Shell has yet to complete a single exploration well pursuant to those approvals.
In response to this announcement, Susan Murray, Oceana’s Deputy Vice President, Pacific, issued the following statement:
“Today’s decision is again disappointing. As it showed by rushing to reaffirm Lease Sale 193, the government is intent on meeting Shell’s timelines rather than fully and fairly evaluating the potential risks and benefits of allowing the company to move forward. Shell’s 2012 failures demonstrated clearly that it is not prepared to operate safely or responsibly in the Arctic Ocean. There is no compelling reason for the rush to give Shell another chance this summer. There is still no proven way to respond to a spill in icy Arctic waters, and new safety and prevention rules are not in place. Moreover, Shell’s public statements do not show that the company has accepted responsibility for its failures in 2012. Until and unless Shell proves that it can operate safely and without harming the environment, it should not be allowed back into the Arctic Ocean. The government should stop and take the time to ensure that its analyses and determinations are careful and thorough. A full and fair review should lead the government to reject Shell’s proposal.”