December 24, 2013

Another View: Cold, hard look needed at Shell’s Arctic drilling plans

There’s no room for error in a setting as remote and forbidding as Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf.

The Seattle Times

Days after Shell Oil turned in revised proposals for oil exploration in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management responded with 10 pages of questions to answer.

Good. Skepticism by this Department of the Interior agency is the least to be expected after Shell’s troubled launch of Alaska oil exploration and drilling plans in 2012 in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Trouble with oil rigs and a new tug caused Shell to punt on the 2013 season, and now it is back asking to try again in 2014 in the Chukchi Sea, between Siberia and the top of Alaska, west of Barrow.

The bureau wants to know if Shell has addressed and corrected issues of noncompliance cited by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency. The information was missing from a November filing by Shell.

For an industry that failed to manage conditions in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, with BP’s Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, there is no room for error in Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf.

The bureau describes the conditions as extreme cold, freezing spray, snow, extended periods of low light, strong winds, dense fog, sea ice, strong currents and dangerous sea states. Safety and environmental hazards loom large in such conditions and complicate the ability of others to respond in emergencies.

Proceeding cautiously, and seeking credible explanations and assurances of remedial changes, must come before any Department of Interior consideration of new drilling plans.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)