Shell stops Arctic drilling
Royal Dutch Shell yesterday annouced that it will suspend its offshore drilling programme in the Arctic for the rest of 2013.
The company said that this would give them time to ensure the safety of their operations in the wake of several recent problems.
The BBC reported that these included:
- the failure to have a spill-response barge on site before the drills reached oil-bearing zones, as it had promised, and a containment dome was damaged during testing
- drilling in the Chukchi Sea being called off less than 24 hours after it began on 9 September due to a major ice flow
- a fire on the Noble Discoverer rig that Shell had hired for the Chukchi Sea drilling, and the US Coast Guard discovered 16 safety violations on board, which have now been passed to the justice department
- the Kulluk, a circular drilling barge, broke away from its towing vessel and ran aground on its way to a shipyard in Washington State in late December
Shell has also faced widespread opposition to its activities from environmental activists.
"This is the first good decision we've seen from Shell," said Mike le Vine of Oceana, a group which focuses on ocean conservation.
"Given the disastrous 2012 season, our government agencies must take advantage of this opportunity to reassess the way decisions are made about our ocean resources and to reconsider the commitment to explore for oil in the Arctic Ocean."
Greenpeace also welcomed the announcement by Shell. Phil Radford, Greenpeace USA Executive Director said in response:
“This is the first thing Shell’s done right in Alaska – calling it quits. Shell was supposed to be the best of the best, but the long list of mishaps and near-disasters is a clear indication even the ‘best’ companies can’t succeed in Arctic drilling. Secretary Salazar and President Obama gave drilling a chance; now the responsible decision is to make Arctic drilling off limits, forever.
“Taking the lead on saving the Arctic from dangerous exploitation will not only protect the fragile Arctic ecosystem and the communities that depend on it, it will send a powerful signal to other nations that it’s time to kick our addiction to fossil fuels. Drilling in the Arctic will propel us towards catastrophic climate change, so it needs to end now."
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