Earlier this afternoon I received an email from Greenpeace that stated (very excitedly) that today, Shell (Royal Dutch Shell PLC) announced that it is giving up on its plans to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic in 2013.
According to the Washington Post, Shell’s president, Marvin Odum described the decision not to conduct exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beafort Seas in a statement as a “pause.”
“We’ve made progress in Alaska, but this is a long-term program that we are pursuing in a safe and measured way,” Odum said. “Our decision to pause in 2013 will give us time to ensure the readiness of all our equipment and people following the drilling season in 2012.”
The Chukchi Sea is bounded on the west by the De Long Strait, off Wrangel Island, and in the east by Point Barrow, Alaska, beyond which lies the Beaufort Sea. The Bering Strait forms its southernmost limit and connects it to the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It is only navigable about four months of the year.
The Los Angeles Times stated today that the decision followed a series of weather problems and mechanical mishaps that prevented the company from drilling anything but “top holes” during the 2012 debut season — never reaching oil deposits. Then on the way south from the Arctic, the conical drilling rig that was the centerpiece of Shell’s operations in the Beaufort Sea, the Kulluk, grounded on a small island near Kodiak in heavy seas after its powerful tow vessel inexplicably lost power.
On an article posted on Saturday, February 23rd on www.truth-out.org, the Coast Guard found 16 violations on the Noble Discoverer, one of Shell’s two drilling rigs for Alaska’s Arctic waters.
Details of the Noble Discoverer’s violations were obtained by Democratic staff of the House Natural Resources Committee, which had asked the Coast Guard for an accounting of inspections that took place on the rig at the end of November.