Did you know a major environmental disaster occurred last week?

Oil company Royal Dutch Shell has begun the massive task of cleaning up nearly 90,000 gallons of crude oil that leaked from a company oil derrick roughly 90 miles off the state’s coast, the Associated Press reported Friday. The poorest residents of coastal communities and Native Americans were likely to feel the brunt of this.

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Shell abandons Alaska Arctic drilling
Oil giant’s US president says hugely controversial drilling operations off Alaska will stop for ‘foreseeable future’ as drilling finds little oil and gas
By Terry Macalister

What a good news on a Monday! Shell has abandoned all plans of drilling in the Arctic for now, as the results from their exploratory drill was disappointing and did not lead to the results they were hoping for. 

I have written about offshore drilling a few weeks ago, so I happily welcome this news. If you’ve missed my posts:

Part 1: What is Offshore Drilling and Its Impacts on the Environment

Part 2: Arctic Drilling Plans, and the Need for Green Technologies


Shell launches largest vessel ever to float: It’s 93 metres high and half a kilometre long

Royal Dutch Shell says it has completed building the hull of the world’s largest floating facility, which has been constructed to process natural gas off the coast of western Australia.

Shell said Tuesday that the 488-meter (1,600 foot) hull of the structure, known as “Prelude,” was floated out of the dry dock in Geoje, South Korea where it is being built.

With a bow and stern half a kilometre apart, four football pitches would fit on the vessel’s deck were it not for a clutter of kit towering up to 93 metres high that will take in the equivalent of 110,000 barrels of oil per day in natural gas and cool it into liquefied natural gas for transport and sale in Asia. It will float above gas fields.

Shell says it can remain in place through a category 5 cyclone.

Construction began last year, three years after the project was announced. Gas production is slated to begin in 2017. (Photo: Seokyong Lee/ Royal Dutch ShellShell)
Supreme Court to decide if corporations can be sued for human rights abuses

The Supreme Court will weigh next week whether corporations can be sued in the United States for suspected complicity in human rights abuses abroad, in a case being closely watched by businesses concerned about long and costly litigation.

The high court on Tuesday will consider the reach of a 1789 U.S. law that had been largely dormant until 1980, when human rights lawyers started using it, at first to sue foreign government officials. Then, over the next 20 years, the lawyers used the law to target multinational corporations.

The case before the court pits the Obama administration and human rights advocates against large companies and foreign governments over allegations that Royal Dutch Shell Plc helped Nigeria crush oil exploration protests in the 1990s.

Administration attorneys and lawyers for the plaintiffs contend corporations can be held accountable in U.S. courts for committing or assisting foreign governments in torture, executions or other human rights abuses.

Attorneys for corporations argue that only individuals, such as company employees or managers involved in the abuse, can be sued, a position adopted by a U.S. appeals court in New York. Other courts ruled corporations can be held liable.

Citizens United says that corporations are people with the same free speech rights.  So if they are people they get the responsibilities along with the rights.

Shell is ready to sacrifice more than 2,500 bowhead whales, 2,500 graywhales, and 50,000 ring seals to drill for oil in the Arctic*. Their plan is to harass these majestic creatures with potentially deafening sounds and call it the price of doing business.

The endangered bowhead whale lives and dies by its ability to hear and communicate with other whales in the Arctic. However, the sounds of exploratory drilling, seismic testing, and ice-breaking could ultimately destroy their hearing. This is tantamount to a death sentence.

Over 35,000 activists like you have spoken out in the past week and helped to send a strong message to the White House. Let’s flood President Obama’s office with 20,000 more letters by tomorrow!

Send your letter, and tell President Obama to say Shell No!

* “Shell’s US Arctic drilling will harass thousands of whales and seals”, The Guardian, 6/5/15.
CEO of Royal Dutch Shell: Climate change discussion ‘has gone into la-la land’

Q: Let’s turn to the Ukraine? You have been planning to drill for shale gas in eastern Ukraine near recent fighting. How much of that is in areas controlled by Russian separatists?

It is very much in that general region. That venture is very much in the Donetsk and Slavyansk areas. I’m not sure whether they are smack in the middle of the conflict or on the borders. The contours have changed. One thing I know is we can’t operate there. We have declared force majeure. As it happened, we had taken a pause to evaluate the drilling results. So this is just suspended. I don’t know what is going to happen. I guess nobody knows what is going to happen. When it all has stabilized and returned to normal, which I truly hope will happen soon, we’ll take an inventory of what the situation is. There’s no production. We had drilled and fractured the first well. It is very early exploration.

weird how conflicts arise virtually everywhere oil companies spend money

Keep Shell Out of the Arctic! | Save BioGems

For years, Shell has been vying for one environmental jewel that has remained off-limits to the company’s drill rigs: the Polar Bear Seas off the northern coast of Alaska, including the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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The Obama Administration has just given Shell a tentative go-ahead to begin drilling this summer off the coastline of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—the polar bear’s most important denning ground in Alaska. An oil spill is all but assured if the company moves forward with full-scale oil production. Even worse, the oil industry has no proven method for cleaning up oil in the Arctic’s ice-filled waters. So the death toll of oil-soaked and poisoned polar bears, whales and seals would be unimaginable.

-Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., NRDC Senior Attorney


Looks like Shell Oil, you know, Royal Dutch Shell?, is finally going to get their way in the Arctic. Despite the fact that they don’t have a plan to handle a spill, don’t have effective technology to handle an accident, and our government lacks technology or money to handle a problem, we’ve given them a shot at creating another Deepwater Horizon for the Arctic. Oh, and to make a lot of money exporting petroleum.

In case you think this drilling will cut your gas bill, guess again. Our number 1 export last year was, wait for it, Gasoline! (“Gas, other fuels are top U.S. export –”) We’re using less gas, so they’re selling it offshore to South America rather than cutting prices. They won’t cut prices, they’ll keep them high and sell whatever we don’t use offshore and pocket the profits.

Which is why they want to drill in the Arctic so badly. Not to reduce our energy dependence on foreign oil. Just to make more money while soaking your wallet.

I do, indeed, have a problem with this. If you do too, have a look at the attached.


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Workers at Major Oil Refineries Strike in US

Workers at three major US oil refineries operated with Royal Dutch Shell went on strike Saturday in a dispute over safer working conditions.

Some 5,200 workers operating around a dozen installations have been on strike since February 1 demanding improved wages and safety conditions.

The United Steelworkers (USW) said the strike has reached workers at the huge Motiva Enterprises refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, the largest refinery in the United States which produces more than 600,000 barrels per day.
Nigeria oil spill manager: Shell offshore spill affecting 115 miles of ocean, moving to coast

An oil spill near the coast of Nigeria is likely the worst to hit those waters in a decade, a government official said Thursday, as slicks from the Royal Dutch Shell PLC spill approached the country’s southern shoreline.

The Shell ship has cleared the bridge, according to social media.

From KATU:

As the Fennica made its way toward the St. Johns Bridge, some kayaktivists attempted to get in front of the ship to stop it. Coast Guard boats rushed to intervene and rammed at least one kayaker and pulled its occupant on board one of their boats.

Other confrontations erupted as 40 or more kayakers and law enforcement battled for control of the Willamette River, which forced the Fennica to retreat.

Law enforcement personnel pulled people from their kayaks in several instances and took them on board their boats.

At one point law enforcement struggled to take into custody a man who was apparently was swimming naked in the river.

US Supreme Court Dismisses Case Of Ogoni’s Kiobel Against Royal Dutch Petroleum

By SaharaReporters, New York

Royal Dutch Shell and several multinational corporations were handed victory by the US Supreme Court which affirmed the decision of the US Court of Appeals for the second circuit relating to the case of Ogoni nationals affected by Shell’s oil connivance with the Nigerian military.

Rep. Markey Raises Big Questions About Shell's Containment Dome Fail

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Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass), has penned a letter to Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, looking for answers about a Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) containment dome that “crushed like a beer can” in tests earlier this Fall.

Markey, who is the Ranking Member of the US House Committee on Natural Resources, is referring to a story first broken by Seattle radio station KUOW investigator John Ryan, revealing that in September Shell performed tests on a containment dome that was to be deployed as part of the company’s controversial Arctic offshore oil drilling operations.

According to government reports obtained by KUOW, the dome “breached like a whale” and then sank to the bottom of Puget Sound off the coast of Washington State. When the dome was recovered a government official described the dome as “crushed like a beer can.”

The containment dome is a key piece of emergency spill equipment that is used to cap an oil well when a pipe burst occurs, like the one we saw in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster. Markey describes the failed test in his letter to Salazar:

“Remotely operated submersible robots became tangled in rigging lines, warning indicators were dismissed as defective, and divers were requested, even though using divers would likely not be possible during an actual disaster in the Arctic. The test was conducted in Puget Sound, far away from the actual Arctic environment.”

Markey goes on to ask the question that should be on everyone’s mind given this disturbing revelation:

“Shell’s unsuccessful test in Puget Sound raises new questions about the company’s ability to successfully drill offshore in the Arctic and, more generally, about the ability of containment devices to function properly in the harsh Arctic environment. The outcome of the containment dome test, the fact that Shell may have missed warning signals that something was wrong and Shell’s problems using ROVs, which could be required in an Arctic environment, raise troubling questions about whether Shell can drill safely in this harsh and sensitive area.”

 You can read the full text of Markey’s letter here: Markey Questions Interior on Failed Arctic Spill Containment Test.“