Stop Climate Chaos

8 reasons why Shell can't be trusted in the Arctic

Shell's Arctic oil rig runs aground in Alaska
All rights reserved. Credit: US Coast Guard
Shell's Arctic oil rig hits the rocks. Should we trust them with the Arctic?
Image caption: 
Shell's Arctic oil rig hits the rocks. Should we trust them with the Arctic?

Shell's most
recent 'mishap'
a few days ago was not the first setback the oil giant has suffered in
its plans to drill for oil in the Arctic. In fact, it's the eighth in a growing
list of reasons why Shell should not be trusted in the Arctic.

Shell has no idea how much an oil spill clean-up would cost

In March 2012, in response to questions from the UK's Parliamentary
Environmental Audit Committee, Peter Velez, Shell’s head of emergency response
in the Arctic admitted
that Shell had not assessed the costs of a clean-up operation in the Arctic
leaving shareholders exposed to potentially huge financial losses.

Shell's barge, the Arctic Challenger, was not deemed safe enough by the US government

In July last year the US authorities announced that a key part of
Shell’s oil spill response fleet hadn’t been allowed to sail to
the Arctic because it did not meet US Coast Guard safety standards. The ship, Arctic
is a 36-year-old barge used to drag safety equipment through sea ice. But US
authorities are not happy with what they’ve seen on-board and didn’t feel
confident the Arctic
could withstand the extremely harsh Arctic environment.
Originally Shell agreed that the ship would be able to withstand a
100-year storm
, but company engineers are now saying that it is “no longer appropriate” for the barge to meet such
onerous standards.

US Coast Guard "not confident" with Shell's dispersants in the event
of an oil spill

In an interview
with Bloomberg the commandant of the US Coast Guard expressed doubts about the impact of
dispersants in Alaska in the event of an oil spill, saying - “I’m not confident
what it will do in the colder water up in Alaska”. Shell has included
dispersant use as a major part of its oil spill response plan for the Arctic.

4. Shell's drill ship runs aground in a 'stiff breeze'

On 15 July Shell’s drill ship, the Noble
, ran aground in the sheltered and relatively calm Dutch Harbour,
Alaska, in a 35mph wind. Both the Noble
and the Kulluk are
ageing, rusty vessels and not the state of the art fleet that Shell has been
boasting about. The Kulluk has been mothballed
for the last 13 years
whilst the Frontier
was built
in 1966.

Shell's drill ship catches fire

In November the engine of the drill ship, the Noble Discoverer,
as it returned to Dutch Harbour, Alaska, and had to be put out by
specialist fire crews.

Shell's capping stack safety system 'crushed like a beer can' during testing

In December it was revealed that the
oil spill containment system that Shell was supposed to have on-site in the
Arctic was badly damaged in September testing. A Federal Bureau of Safety and
Environmental Enforcement representative disclosed that the sub-sea capping
stack was “crushed
like a beer can”

Shell's Alaskan Vice-President admits: "There
will be spills"

In an interview
with the BBC
, Pete Slaiby admits that an oil spill is what
people were most concerned about. "If you ask me will there ever be
spills, I imagine there will be spills," he said.

Shell's Arctic oil rig hits the rocks

On 31 December 2012, the oil rig, the Kulluk, ran aground off the coast of Alaska while being towed back
to harbour in Seattle. It had hit heavy weather in the gulf of Alaska a few days
earlier which caused the 400ft towing line to break and the rig to drift free.
The tug managed to reconnect with the Kulluk but it “experienced
multiple engine failures” 50 miles south of Kodiak Island,
causing the rig to drift free once again in 35ft seas and winds of
40mph. The rig eventually ran aground on Monday after another attempt to tow it
away. The Kulluk has 139,000 gallons of diesel and 12,000
gallons of hydraulic oil on board but as yet no spills have
been observed.  Teams on the ground are
currently still trying to secure the rig.

Join the movement
to Save the Arctic
and let’s stop reckless companies like Shell from exploiting
this fragile environment.

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